Fridays Run in the Snow
Confusion! Someone Isn't Totally Convinced!
So developing Race Focus Endurance is the key to trail running performance. And as the slide directly above states there are two aspects, preparation prior to race day, and then strategies during the actual race. In terms of preparation, obviously improving physiological fitness is important, but it isn't the only thing to focus on whilst preparing. I didn't have time to explain my concepts on physical preparation during the weekend's presentation, and so I summarised very concisely with the statement "In terms of physical training, it doesn't really matter what you do, you just have to do it!" In essence this short statement is reasonably true, in that often people make physical training a lot more complicated than it actually needs to be. They will scrutinise other peoples training plans, ideas, and often want to include every type of physical training possible, and then still think they need to do more, or haven't done it right. In terms of physical training there are some important principles, so the phase "it doesn't really matter what you do" I guess is a bit misleading. But as long as one uses their commonsense and doesn't attempt to do too much, or too little, then they shouldn't go too far wrong.
I seem to getting myself in a mess here "too much or too little" how do you know??? I guess the best solution is to come along to the South Downs Ultra Trail Running Camp, that I am leading that takes place within the National Trust Slindon Estate, near Arundel, Sussex, on the 21st - 23rd June 2013. The intention is to live, talk, eat, experience, and sleep trail running for the entire weekend. So there will be more than enough time to have all of your questions answered, hopefully! Click the following link to get to the Trail Running Sussex website http://www.trailrunningsussex.co.uk/ to obtain more information on what the Running Camp involves.
In terms of preparation, it is important that you carry out research on the demands of the race, so you are totally aware of what you may encounter. Encountering the unexpected whilst racing tends to reduce performance. Carrying out TOTAL preparation will hopefully result in increased confidence, which is an extremely important commodity that is needed in order to maximise ones performance.
In terms of strategies to respond to the challenges you will encounter whilst racing. Remember the idea of a race is to challenge yourself. So it should get challenging, which is a much more positive expression than "finding it hard or tough", or the very negative expressions "hurting or painful"! Terminology is important, so use positive terminology all of the time. So strategies that will enhance performance, are heavily focused on visualisations. Visualising what could happen during the race, the many possibilities, the many challenges one could face, and then visualise the positive response to them all. A simple concept, but often quite difficult to carry out. Somehow the negative response seems to try to dominate. As with most training, it takes time for the benefits to eventuate. Hopefully the above slides and brief comments help fill some gaps, especially to those runners that were present during the weekend.
After the trail runners had displayed true ultra qualities through enduring me going on and on and on, we all headed off for a, yes, hilly run. But by now the glorious blue sky and sunshine from the morning had been replaced with wind and rain. Although it didn't seem to 'dampen' any ones spirits.
Saturday Afternoons Run - Still All Smiles in the Rain
Following another great night in the pub chatting non stop, come Sunday morning there were I guess around 30 runners that had stayed for a choice of three runs, of different distances and speeds. Not sure whether it was the planned duration of four hours, or that the group I was in was being led by Jon Hedger, the winner of the 2012 Osmotherley Phoenix 33 mile Ultra Trail race, but our group consisted of only five runners, with the majority of the runners going in the 2 - 3 hour groups.
Sunday Mornings Awesome Run
Anyway, Jon a local, was a fantastic guide. He took us on an amazingly scenic route around Church Stretton, where we summited many steep hills. The first hour was pretty solid, as everyone wasn't really sure at what pace to run at, and off course none of us wanted to acknowledge that the pace was pretty quickish. Luckily, the pace then settled down, as we continued our great tour of the undulating countryside. The weather was variable in terms of sunshine and showers, but not in terms of the wind. I would have to say that the wind was pretty well the strongest I have run in whilst living in Britain. It reminded me of good old windy Wellington, back home in New Zealand.
Struggling to Stay Upright in the Wind! With James Harris (red top), Jon Hedger, and Dwane Dixon (black)
After over three hours of running, we started climbing the last big hill of the day. With it being two weeks out from my first key race of the year, the 53 mile Hoka Highland Fling, and with this run going to be my last bit of strenuous training, I felt I needed a bit of a blast out, to finish off my 18 weeks of consistent quality physical training. So being well aware that I could be setting myself up for a tough battle, as there had been a little bit of 'smack talk' during the run, as the gradient of the hill steepened, I simply maintained my pace. Expecting the other guys, especially Australian Dwane , to take up a Kiwi - Aussie battle, I was prepared for a good ten minutes or so of focus. Unfortunately, or actually more probably fortunately, none of the other four runners took my increase in intensity as a challenge, and they maintained their sensible pace to the top, and were most likely thinking "Bloody Kiwi, he should know better, to keep the racing to race day!"
PPS I received an e-mail the other day from ultra trail runner Andy Mouncey and he asked if I could spread the word regarding his latest project. His new project involves writing another ultra trail running book, following on from his Magic, Madness and UltraMarathon Running book. This time the book will include short case studies from ultrarunners of all abilities. So Andy is looking for ultra runners to contribute to the book. Below are the details he sent me.“Stay 'within the now' whilst racing. Focus on enjoying every moment, staying confident in that your preparation has been sufficient for the realistic goal you have set yourself, and feel assured that the fast, but comfortable pace you have started at, is correct. Listen to your own 'deep and inner beliefs', and ignore the comments, views and actions of others if they are in conflict with your well thought out and planned strategies.”(What Determines Performance in Ultra Running? - Part Two – UltraStu, May 2010)
Wanted: Ultrarunning Life Through Your Lens
Andy has been commissioned by Crowood Publishing to write a new ‘How To’ book about ultrarunning. The book will include short case studies from ultrarunners of all abilities on a specific topic e.g.
- Work-Life-Running Balance
- Why I Do It/How I’m Different Now
- 3 Things I Know Now That I Wish I Had When I Started
- Lessons From My Success
- Lessons From My DNFs
- Building Confidence
- Eating & Drinking On The Move
- Living With An Ultrarunner: The Significant Other Speaks