Apologies all, it’s been a while since I updated my blog. Thank you for the concerned emails and posts but I can confirm that I am still on track and ramping up the mileage for the big event which is now 70 days away.
I took two complete weeks off to recover from The Druid’s Challenge. I had a bit of achilles tendinopathy and probably a small stress fracture in my foot. I started a gentle build up of mileage again, but then got a bit sidetracked by something called TrainAsOne. It claims to use artificial intelligence to analyse all the data collected from my various devices to tailor the perfect training schedule and ensure that I am always training at my optimum and safe level. I tried it out but it kept insisting that I needed to do a series of daily 1 and 2 mile runs. I stuck with it for a few weeks and kept in contact with the TrainAsOne people who reassured me that this was correct, but I’m afraid I just lost confidence in the whole thing as my weekly mileage never got into double figures, and I could feel my fitness deteriorating and my endurance slipping over time. This was probably all in my mind, and if I’d stuck at it I may well have been fine. So I’m now back on a training programme of my own design that I am more happy with, which has a lot more miles.
So, the next target is The Pilgrim’s Challenge, a two-day ultra-marathon on the South Downs Way covering 66 miles at the beginning of February. I’m slightly nervous that this has come at the wrong time in my Marathon des Sables preparation, especially if it takes me a couple of weeks to recover. If that’s the case then I’ll need a couple of weeks off, and that leave me about two weeks of training before a tapering off for about four weeks.
My plan is to take it really easy, and with my learnings from Druids, I’ll never let my heart rate get above 156. This could mean that I end up running very slowly, and take a long time, but that in itself will be good training for the Marathon des Sables.
About that training: it’s very cold and very wet at the moment. I went for a hilly trail run last week in a deluge of sleet and found myself running knee deep through icy cold flood water on the Chiltern Hills. It’s not exactly ideal acclimation for the desert, but I am calling it ‘discomfort’ training. I am sure that there are going to be large sections where Marathon des Sables will be very uncomfortable, so experiencing some discomfort in training is a kind of conditioning even if it’s not exactly specific.
Speaking of acclimation (a word that I previously thought was an Americanism, but which it turns out is what you do before you get somewhere, whereas acclimatization is what happens when you get there), I have managed to get myself a place on a research study which will acclimate me before I go. More on that in my next post…