Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Adelaide 24hr Ultra Marathon - 2013 (pre event training and preparation)

Lap running again.......... YAY! not......... On the 13th/14th July 2013 will be my first attempt at a 24hr Ultra. http://www.yumigo.com.au/adelaide_24/

It won't be completely new ground for me with having a 12hr behind me, as well as having trail ultra's of 16hr finishing times.  That said, I don't care who you are; 24hrs is a mighty challenge.  As the saying goes, "it doesn't get any easier, you just get faster"........  I think this is a good example here.

Assuming I keep moving through the 24hr period (my main goal), I estimate based on my current form and fatigue rate, I'll be looking at circa 160km's for the tally.  Anything above this would be great.  180km would be a dream right now but as I will not be tapering for this event, but more using it as a training tool, I have a feeling fatigue will pull me back short of this in the final hours.

To be blunt, within minutes of finishing my first 12hr 'lap running' event a few months ago, I swore I was not going to enter this 24hr.  But as ultra nutters go, of course I've come around and talked myself back into it.  The reason behind the immediate disinterest post the 12hr was that I mainly run ultra's because I have a love for the trails.  The scenery. The challenging and ever changing terrain.  Running circles certainly isn't high on my favourites list..........

So why am I doing it then?  Partly because you're not an Ultra Runner if you haven't done a 24hr event.  Partly because a lot of my close ultra runner friends are going to be there and I'd love to share this time with them.  And also partly because it'll be another testing ground in training up for the 750km adventure I'm doing 8 months later.

"Feedback is the breakfast of champions;" and from my past Ultra's I've found a consistent and reliable bout of tummy upset from around the 6-8 hr mark.  That was until a 9hr session I did a couple of weeks ago where I steered clear of what I thought I'd finally identified as the main culprits.  The good news here was that I got through the entire night without even a hint of trouble or discomfort.

In my first 100km Ultra, I got to the 70-75km mark, and the tummy hit me big time.  Unable to consume a thing for a few hours made fuelling impossible.  In my next 100km I steered clear of what I thought was the issue, but to no avail.  Tummy set in at around the 75-80km point.  A month later during a 12hr, I only got to 4 hours and again it showed up.  Each time avoiding what I thought was causing it.

Given that this issue only shows up after some considerable time on the feet, it was near impossible for me to test it out during training therefore it wasn't until the events where I was able to get the 'trial and error' technique into action.

With a change of plan for this year, aiming at larger distances rather than faster times, I've been able to spend the time during training to get some big mile runs in; in turn allowing me test things out a lot more.  Long story short, I've been able to pin point what was causing the tummy upset!!!! Yay.  And to prove my suspicions as mentioned earlier, I went out on the 9 hr with my new fuelling plans and BINGO.  All good.  As it turns out, it was the Endura Hydrolyte drink and gels that were doing it.  Consuming only bananas, plain water, salt tabs, some chocolate brownies, and a few cherry ripe bars this got me through unscathed. Not to mention the odd ginger beer just in case. I must point out here that the only variable to the norm was that I was a support runner for this event so I was only running at a gentle, comfortable pace the majority of the time; so had the intensity been higher at my own level, could this have brought about the same problem?

With all this in mind, 9hrs is far different to that of 24 in terms of vitamins/minerals/nutrients levels in the body.  Therefore, I do think that the recent 9hr plan won't get me through the 24hr without something else.  What to do............  I'll be going natural the whole way. That part I'm sure of!!!! This will be my fuelling testing ground for the 750km.  Sodium, magnesium and potassium being at the top of my list of priorities here.   The carbohydrate issue will be the easy to maintain component, so as long as I can keep the tummy at bay, I think I'm there.

Not being high on my priority list of events this year, I'm not specifically training for this event per se; but more so including it AS PART OF my training.  That noted, of course it is still a far larger single run than any of my typical training runs so there still has to be some level of build up prep and recovery period.  The main difference here will be that I won't be tapering for the event like I would should I have a bigger purpose or expectation.  Intentions are to complete a few more 6hr+ sessions in the coming 6 weeks, but more to the point, keeping my training miles up around the 400-500km's per month.

My current training schedule is following a pattern of 6/1.  Meaning 6 weeks of build up with 1 week active recovery.  This almost double to my old and typical training layout which is on a 3/1 basis.  Also within this 6 weeks, it's currently on 7 days one week, 6 days the next.  Meaning very little rest days.  Again, I add that the majority of the sessions (90%) are at easy, comfortable levels and some are relatively short sessions.  This specifically designed for my personal training goal and not typically advisable.  I'm monitoring this very closely!!!!

For those looking towards their first 24hr, the clear message here is to build the strength in the body.  Tendons and ligaments take time to build.  Far longer than muscle tissue so don't rush yourself into a 24hr.  Spend the time building the body up to 200km+, ideally 300km+ per month should you wish to push the entire way through a 24hr.  You may make it through with less, however your risk to injury would be extremely high if you did.  If your intentions are purely to see how you go, and go with a safe run/walk & even some rest break strategy, you may find your way through on a 150km/month base.  The tip with these events is to stay comfortable for as long as possible, stay fuelled and hydrated, then see what's left in the last stages.  Whilst I've stated I'm not a fan of these types of events, they provide a huge learning curve for you.  Not just in running, but in yourself.

My highest priority for this event will be my moving time.  This will be the key to my success in this event.  When I look back on my Garmin data, I want to see at least 23.5hrs moving time, allowing 1/2hr across the entire event for things such as grabbing some food and changing shoes/socks etc should the need arise.  Anything less will be unacceptable.  Every minute stopped is effectively a dead minute.  Even if it's a short walk while I down some food, I must keep moving.

Coming into this event, I'm a little more confident than leading up to the 12hr, as I've put a lot more miles under the feet in recent months compared to back then.  Speed and strength work has not been a priority in my recent schedule, but long, consistent mileage has taken pole position.  This has it's advantages as well as it's disadvantages.  While it may seem as though it's 'specificity of training' it's also going to expose it's shortcomings in the final hours with fatigue, where strength training could've helped.  So why aren't I doing much hill repeats or other various strength work?  Risk of injury!!!!!  As I've decided I need to rack up the total mileage above recommended increase rates, I've looked to counter this risk by dropping these types of sessions in my routine.  This has got me through the last few months without a hiccup.  Going from 200km/month in December to 500km in April with no sign of strain, discomfort or excessive fatigue is good news for my overall plan.  (my disclaimer here is 'not to try this at home.'  This is way above recommended levels of increase but I've managed it through experience and other risk management strategies)

Running laps for 24hrs straight is not what you'd call appealing.  Well, to me anyway.  In fact, I've created a pet hate for it from the couple of times I've done it.  I think I'd rather be doing my taxes....... With an event starting time in the morning, means the tough time mentally will be 12 hours later when the body is already fatigued, but now the body clock is telling me is night night time.......  I've done all nighters before, but not from starting in the morning.  Always starting late afternoon or early evening.  A great advantage (one of very few in lap running) is that I'll have my support crew close by at all times and being a local race I'll be surrounded by familiar faces whom I've shared the trails with before.  This stimulation will keep me going for the majority but I do believe I'm going to need something else.  I've got a few mantras that motivate me, but ultimately it'll be my goals that'll keep me moving.

I read some time ago on another runners blog (I'm sorry I can't remember who) that said "one of the best ways to get a little kick in a tough stage of an event is to encourage another runner as you/they pass by".  I've made a concerted effort to make this a normal part of my time on the track, (and local regulars could probably confirm).  This definitely works.  There's something about being positive and supportive to another that simultaneously rewards the provider.  Try it out on your next race!

In addition, this event will be the first of it's type for a few of my recent clients who have recently decided to take up my training programmes to get fitter or improve their performance.  Some of which came from ZERO running.  I'm going to be massively proud as we go around seeing them in action and how far they've come from only a couple of months ago.  Some doing the 6hr, some the 12hr.  I can't wait to see them.  This will no doubt give me a buzz.

With 2 months to go I still have a little time left to get a better judgement on how I'm going to go, but unlike the 12hr, I don't particularly have a distance goal as such so I'm not too concerned about that.  In fact, I'm more likely to be seen that day spending what energy I have helping some other runners who do have the targets.  Keeping them motivated and on target.  Maybe in 2014 I'll go for the distance goal but where I'm at and what I'm aiming at currently, I don't see that as the priority.

If I'm going to leave this with any tips, it's to always go into an event with a purpose.  Without purpose, there's no direction.  Your purpose may be to come first.  It may be to get your PR.  It may be just to finish.  Or it may be to get some experience.  Don't make the mistake of getting to the starting line without one; or you're likely to get part way through and question why your doing it.

What's the purpose behind your next event?

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