Actual mileage: 28.1 miles
I’d booked Monday and Tuesday off work.
Ruth was away in the Lake District, enjoying a relaxing week at Centre Parcs whilst I got to spend some quality time with Thomas whilst James and Oliver were at school. It also gave me the perfect opportunity to switch off from running for a couple of days and recharge the batteries. After averaging 40+ miles a week for the past 3 weeks it was definitely welcome.
It also focused my mind on kit and nutrition, with the latter something I’d given a lot of thought to since completing the Teesdale Way. Although I got through it, relying on water, a handful of nuts and half a Chia Charge bar was not sustainable and made for an uncomfortable final day.
I’d done some research online and stumbled upon Tailwind Nutrition; which apparently ‘combines complete fuel, hydration and electrolytes into a tasty drink which won’t turn your stomach into a brick.’ It’s designed to overcome the nutrition problems faced by endurance athletes in events like 50’s, 100’s, 24-hour and multi-day events. If it’s good enough for those guys then it’s good enough for me!
I recognise that changing nutrition this late into your training plan is risky and goes against any advice but I felt it was something that needed to be addressed. I’d still plan to eat solids every 30 minutes or so; whether that’s Chia Charge bars, nuts, pretzels or whatever else is on offer at the feed stations, but I’d just replace the water with Tailwind.
I ordered some on Monday, hopeful that it would arrive by Saturday; my last scheduled long run as part of my training plan.
In addition to nutrition, I also ordered a couple of warm mid-layers in case of adverse weather conditions on the day, not uncommon up on the fells. Last years race was during Storm Calum and although we’re not expecting a repeat of last years weather conditions of 60mph winds, flooding and torrential rain, it’s best to be prepared. I opted for a Montane Neutron Hoodie and an OMM Vector long sleeve top which are both fleeced lined and fairly lightweight, thus will pack down nicely into my race bag.
With Thomas at nursery on Wednesday, I managed to fit in a short 4 mile hills session during my lunch break. I kept the pace fairly steady and enjoyed the hills reps. My legs felt fresher and with the daily quad exercises I’d been maintaining, I felt a vast improvement in the knee.
Average Pace: 08:57 min mile
My Tailwind delivery arrived on Friday, just in time for my long run the following morning.
I’d checked the weather forecast the night before; clear and dry in the morning turning into heavy showers in the afternoon. Therefore, I decided to get out nice and early and headed for the Malvern Hills; somewhere I was guaranteed to get in both distance and elevation. I left Bromsgrove at 5:30am and with a 30 minute drive to the hills meant I’d make it in time to see the sunrise at the top of the Worcestershire Beacon; the highest point of the hills at 1,400 ft. I packed my head torch for the first hour of running and arrived at the beacon by sunrise. It was both beautiful and peaceful. I was the only one on the hills and the views, peace and tranquillity were amazing.
I’d taken Tailwind to fuel the run and my first impressions were that it worked extremely well. I’d covered 20 miles in total with over 6,000 ft of elevation and felt strong.
Distance: 20 miles
Average Pace: 15:35 min mile
Elevation Gain: 6,037 ft
|Stunning sunrise – so peaceful|
|Finally got to that elusive 6,000 ft.|
|Quarry near Hollybush|
I’d planned to rest on Sunday but decided to go out and do a short, local hills session. Running on tired legs is good training and despite my aching limbs I went out harder than normal, completing 3 miles of hill repeats in my second fastest time ever; averaging 7:52 mm pace; not bad (for me) after a tough weekend of running!
Average Pace: 07:52 minute mile
Mile 1 – 08:17, Mile 2 – 07:51, Mile 3 – 07:41, Mile 4 – 06:51