This morning I ran leg 1 of the Cotswold Way Relay, which is a 19k leg from Chipping Campden to Stanway, as part of the Cheltenham Harriers mixed team. I was feeling a little apprehensive about this race given that it has only been 6 days since the 50mile Cheltenham Challenge Ultra. The club had a pretty strong team out and I didn’t want to let the side down but I was worried my legs might not be up to the job! Fortunately, they held up and I completed my leg in 1:40 – exactly the same time as I ran when I did the first leg in 2013. I was not able to push hard on the hills but, all things considered, I was pretty pleased.
I had then planned to run the 15 miles home from Stanway, as my long run for the day was 4 hours. After a quick re-fuel at the finish on a bar, gels and water I set off, but after about an hour I was feeling decidedly rough. My right hip was tight, both hamstrings hurt and I had two big, sore blisters on the balls of my feet. I took a 10 minute break just outside Greet to stretch off and this helped a little. Once I got going again it was not long before the cramping in my legs returned and I know if I'd had my phone with me I would have certainly called Ollie for a pick-up! However, there was no point in even trying to fine a phone as Ollie had dropped me off in Chipping Campden and then gone to work so was not available for a collection, and I had to make it back ASAP as I was due at work myself by midday! This was turning out to be a most unpleasant and unsuccessful training run – or was it?
I decided that the best way to keep a consistent pace going was to adapt a run/walk strategy. I started each mile with a 2 minute walk. After 2 minutes were up I had to start running again (God – those 2 minutes went fast!) and I had to keep running until my Garmin bleeped again to say I had completed the mile. I was then allowed another 2 minute walk break………..and so on………..all the way home.
And this is why it was perhaps not a completely unsuccessful training session. I have gained some more mental toughness from having to keep going when I wanted to quit really badly. I managed to organise myself using a strategy that worked and I know I will be able to implement again if and when the wheels fall off during the 87mile Marble Arch to Dover run. The miles that I had to run/walk took 12 minutes (instead of the 10 minute target pace that I am aiming to run for the main event). Therefore I have gained some more information in my preparation regarding my pacing of the miles in the latter stages of the run. However, my top tip would be don’t expect to be able smash yourself over a 12mile hilly off-road route 6 days after a 50mile ultra, and then expect to be able run on another 15miles without feeling some pain and suffering!!!