Open Source Athlete - May Edition

Tuesday, 1st May 2012

Long training run report.

I've been a bit preoccupied lately, and this month's edition of Open Source Athlete suddenly crept up on me.

So without giving too much thought to a specific topic, I thought I would recap on my long run yesterday. So far it has been the longest run I have done in training, with one more significantly longer run on the cards happening in a few weeks.

From the outset of the program, I knew that this particular 9-hour run was inevitable. However the problem with it being a training run is that there never seems to be a taper involved. By Saturday evening I had put in a solid 165km with plenty of character building tempo and interval work, as well as a solid 4 hour + long run with plenty of vertical.

I tapered on Sunday. Strangely enough I was as cranky as any pre-race taper week – I suppose it was just the anxiety of waiting around to get this thing started – even though there was nobody else on the start line, and the fact that it was a Monday.

Anyway the alarm finally rang at 5:30. Not super early, as I felt that a 6am start would be fine, allowing me to maximize the hottest part of the day. Granted the rest of Australia is having a few cold spells, but Cairns topped out yesterday at 28 degrees and close to 70% humidity. Still fairly warm!

I had a route planned, which included a 24km, 1 in 20 gradient climb to start the run. As I hit the start of the climb, the road was blocked due to road works. No amount of pleading with the road works crew would get me through. There is nothing worse than having to compromise with some lame excuse as to why at 6:15am you are not allowed to run up a quiet country road, and then having to divert your run at the last minute. It is fair enough to assume that ad-libbing on a short run is no real issue, but when your day is planned on a route that maximizes every bit of the runable area, you tend get a bit cranky. As a result I had to run along what I call the "badlands". 15km of flat cane paddock headland and a housing estate, until eventually I reached a gorge with a 3km near vertical climb taking me to my original planned stage 1 destination.

By now I was into the run and had forgotten about the earlier incident.

Breakfast before I left home was two small tubs of Heinz Vanilla Rice Pudding and a double shot espresso. My on the road fuel is Endura Optimizer, Endura Gels and Salt Stick tablets.

After 2 hours of running it was time to refill the bottles and refuel, as I had an 18km bush section with limited drinking water available. A newcomer to my nutrition strategy is the addition of Nodoz caffeine tablets. These boys work a treat. So a top up of Endura Optimizer, one gel and one Nodoz tablet, and I'm ready to roll. Next stop is a servo on a rural highway. I tapped out the 18km sitting comfortably on 5-5:15min / km pace. By the time I reached the servo I had been out for roughly 4 hours. Time flies when you're having a ball, but I still wasn't even half way. That was the end of Stage 2 and I was now embarking on a hilly road section of around 11km. By this stage I was starting to feel like a change and so I mixed it up a bit and bought a 600ml coke and mars bar + another Nodoz.

At one point along this section it rained while the sun was out and I was running into a headwind. I was glad I had taken the extra caffeine shot as this helped me power through less than ideal conditions. I rolled into a small town called Kuranda. I generally always use Kuranda as a decent fuel stop, and by now had been running for close to 6 hours. Lunch time! Lunch was a chocolate muffin and an extra strength long black. Muffin inhaled and coffee sculled. In and out of town in about 12 minutes. The majority of the next 18km stage of the run is a brutally steep and technical section through some really awesome rainforest with stunning views. On my approach into the dense section of the bush I pass a core flute board with "recent Cassowary sighting". I've come across these guys in the bush before and it isn't the best experience. You never know what you're going to get – what you don't want is a protective parent guarding their chicks.

It is amazing that once you see a sign for something, every noise in the bush becomes that thing – on steroids. I used to be nervous of wild pigs, but there are so many in the bush now, you virtually have to push them out the way with a stick. Fortunately I made it ok and into the suburbs below the mountain unscathed. However, this section takes its toll on the body and by 16km I could feel the onset of a bonk. A few black spots and dizziness was fast approaching. I made it by the skin of my teeth to the next servo, at which I bought another coke and a mars bar. Now I only had another 80mins of running left. I remember at that point thinking that 80mins is a decent run time on its own, but for now it just felt like a short run.

As I ran through 9 hrs I was sitting on 78.5km. So I ran around the block and then 100m past the house, turned and then back to the driveway to finish exactly on 80.02km.

It was a fairly tough day at the office, but I am happy to have finished strong after the volume of running done in the last 8 days.

A few technical specs:

Distance: 80.02 km

Time: 9:08:54

Elevation Gain: 1,580 m

Elevation loss: 1,581m

Calories: 6,317 C

Endura Optimizer: 5 serves

Endura Gels: 5 gels

Nodoz: 3

Salt Stick: 15

Coke: 2 x 600ml

Muffin: 1

Mars bar: 2

Long black: 2

So in summary, not a lot of rocket science behind this post, just thought I'd share a mundane training day in the life of ultra running.



#4 dee 2012-05-18 18:52
I'm curious on reading about the caffeine you had before/during the run if you usually have caffeine or save it for these long runs?
#3 Alun Davies 2012-05-12 11:08
A lot of runners on the 'local' scene would do well to read this, Mike.

Way too many guys take on board far too many calories with no inkling that there's a finite amount that you can process over a given time, regardless of intencity (many of them highly experienced ultra runners). They then wonder why they have digestion problems during an event.

Go figure.

Always worth a read, thanks for sharing.

#2 Susan Crowe 2012-05-08 11:36
Of course you have to do the 100m past your house!! Great read and a reminder to me why I will not be venturing down the ultra running path.
#1 Rob t 2012-05-06 13:48
Great article Mike, nicely conveyed the 'loneliness of the long distance runner'. I can't imagine anyone else who'd do an extra 100m past home after all that though!

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