As they say, if you can’t go faster, go further. And even though I hope I haven’t reached my limit of how fast I can go, I have this incessant urge to go further and push myself that extra bit.
So here it is,
– 2015, first race
– 2016, first half marathon
– 2017, first marathon
– 2018, you can see where this is going right?…..Ultra!
So yes, 2018 I will be doing my first Ultra at Race to the Stones on the 13-14th July. Yes I know, this has all escalated rather quickly and it’s all happened in the last week or so.
It’s weird that this goal has only been a thought since I became a runner, growing up I thought my dad was the don for running marathons and didn’t even know that Ultras existed apart from the likes of Marathon des Sables – fyi, my Dad is still the don. But I truly believe that the Ultra-marathon distance is available to most people, there are even walking options available – can you imagine the uproar if VLM did that?
Why RTTS. Well it fits in well with my plan and goal races for the year, being right in the middle of London Marathon and Chicago it means I get a bit of time to rest after London but it will also aid my training up to Chicago.
There is also a flipping good crew going to run it of my Insta-friends (I should probably stop calling them that, they’re actual friends). And to be honest that was the clinch point for me to sign up.
Why do I want to go Ultra?
The first temptation of doing an ultra was when I was doing Cakeathon back in August last year. It ticked all the boxes, checkpoint every 4.5miles, lots of cake at said checkpoint, it was all trails, it was very hilly and everyone was incredibly friendly and supportive. Granted I was very lucky that day with it being dry and the trails were in perfect conditions but I loved the chilled out atmosphere of the event, there were no real time pressures (you had to finish your last lap in 8hours) and it was just really enjoyable – but granted I could stop at 18miles and call it a day.
A few other reasons to try an Ultra….
They’re friendly (apparently) -I’ve experienced that generally trail races are much friendlier that road races. Running Cakeathon I was delighted to be joined towards the end of my run by a gent who was already in the 100 Marathons Club and was completing 20th+ of his 52 Marathons in 52 Weeks. We ran together for a good mile or two, we chatted we ran and wished each other good luck, you find me a road race where we’d even be sharing the same stretch of tarmac.
Aid Stations – So I keep being told about the Jaffa Cakes! Several people have told me about the Jaffa Cakes, the Cake, oh the cake….. Someone once described it to me as a run with a picnic every 10k, which to be honest it sounds pretty darn good to me.
Time limit – if you read my Berlin blog, you’ll know I was really worried about the time limit. The time limit for RTTS is about 12 hours, that’s averaging about 23min/mile – so even with a decent stop at each checkpoint that’s pretty easy going. I calculated that if each 10k took you 1h45 and you spent 15mins at each aid station you’d still finish around 10hrs.
Trails/scenery – So compared to running along a soggy pavement, the views and enjoyment of a nice dry trail is something to behold. I’ve done trail races I’ve loved and ones I’ve hated, mostly because they’ve been muddy. I’ll always remember the views on the North Downs and they were spectacular.
Easier on the body – From doing my research online it seems like so many people say they feel a lot better after a Trail Marathon (or 50k) than they do after a Road Marathon. Reasons include the trails are easier on the joints, you get to rest every 10k at the aid stations, they tend to be undulating where you can rest on the downhill sections, the list continues. Also with the option I am taking at RTTS, I don’t have to rush off home, I will be spending the night camping with my friends, I have a hot meal provided and I’ve been told there is a bar too!
Its time on feet – I know a few people who really emphasise the aspect of ToF – even for marathons. I still think that spending almost 8hrs on my feet at Cakeathon did me well for Berlin. I was talking to Mike the other day that has planned long walks into his schedule for this reason and that it builds impact endurance and strength in the joints.
Friends – Well, I have some very persuasive friends (well, ok one friend, Natalie, Natalie is very persuasive) but it was already on my radar and to be honest it was the push I needed to get signed up. I should’ve been doing another 50k elsewhere, but I’d travel there and back on the same day, wouldn’t know anyone else there and to be honest this sounds like tons more fun. There’s a group of us doing the 50k and then camping, along with others that are doing the 100k (straight through and camping).
We have an awesome crew of people around for the event and basically I cannot wait to run with them.
Thing to consider
Training – So for now I am obviously concentrating on training for London Marathon, this is priority no.1 right now. How I am going to take my training from Marathon to Ultra I am not quite sure yet. I have read a few websites and browsed a few plans – most of which go up to Marathon distance 5/6 weeks beforehand. I have a couple of ideas for my long run – one may be to do Race to the Tower Day 1, do a long run on the day of the Harvel 5 with Natalie on the North Downs, or see if we can get the crew together, stuff a car full of snacks and water and do laps of Richmond Park. But tbc at the moment.
Mental Training – One we often forget about. Some people just don’t need to do this, I on the other hand think I do. I really surprised myself at Berlin when things got tough, I had a little word with myself and I carried on – that isn’t normally me. So I’ll be looking into ways I can improve my mental ability to keep going.
Kit – I have a lot of kit, and I mean a lot. Thinking of what else I might need for ultra is really down to what shoes I’m going to wear – I have the pack, the bladders, the nutrition, the socks etc. If the trails are dry I’ll go with my Saucony road shoes, but I need to be prepared if they’re not. I’m looking into some Hoka hybrids as I imagine these are going to be more comfortable than my Salomon Speedcross which start to hurt and squeeze my feet as soon as I go more than 5k in them.
I also need to think about the required kit, waterproofs, medical kit, stuff to patch myself up with en-route etc.
Overnight kit – I’ll be camping the night in the base camp once we are finished and I need to buy some pieces (sleeping bag, inflatable pillow) but need to be strategic about having enough but not too much. Things like recovery leggings, runr hoody are of course essentials.
Recovery – I need to be clever about this – at the moment it’s the one piece that lets me down. I obviously can’t take my foam roller with me so will maybe invest in one the hand-held rollers. I’ve used the SiS overnight recovery shake before and will take that along with some bars and some food.
Any other thoughts please let me know!!
You can read all the websites you like, but I tend to go to blogs when I need to know details. They tend to go into detail on what they did, didn’t like, what they did that was good, what they’d do different etc. – like a spare pair of shorts for example (sorry Michelle…).
These are a few of my favourites off the top of my head and one’s I’ll be picking over in the coming months. They’re also really great guys to know and very knowledgeable about the do’s and don’ts.
I am working with Threshold Sports on the events and they have been kind enough to offer my 60, yes 60!!!!! 15% discount codes for their Trail Series (20 for each race).
The links are below for each respective race, the discount applies to all formats and distances and is applied at the checkout once you have filled out all you info.
I have no way of tracking how many are used – so I recommend getting in there before they run out. If you do use one please ping me or comment below so I can keep a rough idea.
Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones
Race to the King
HEINEKEN Race to the Tower
*this is a sponsored post for the Threshold Race Series, however I have fully paid for my place at Race to the Stones 2018.