Blog: Couch to Ultramarathon (part two)
Blog: Couch to Ultramarathon (part two)

I’m taking part in the Race to the Stones in July, a 100km ultra-marathon on the Ridgeway path, between the Chilterns and Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire. I’m writing a blog to help me during my training.

This week, I had intended to run 5 x 10k, 5k Parkrun on Saturday, followed by 13 miles on Sunday. Unfortunately, life got in the way. I’m lucky enough to do shift work on a rotating shift pattern. This week, I was rostered to work four night shifts, starting on Monday, working from 9:30pm until 7am, so my working week finished at 7am on Friday.

My plan to run 10k a day during the week, in the evening before leaving for work, went well until Thursday when a selection of family responsibilities conspired to prevent me from running 10k. I would’ve had enough time to do 5k, but elected to stay at home in the warm and dry. I would’ve been ok to run Friday, but as is traditional, I ended my working week with a few after work drinks on Friday.

The fact it was seven in the morning is not relevant, as for me it was post work. I would’ve still made my Friday evening run had I not had to stay up for a house viewing – I’m trying to sell my house at the moment – and if my evening dog walk not been conducted in sideways rain on Darland Banks. Luckily, my Friday running partner, Gemma, couldn’t make it as she was poorly, so I think it was fate telling me to stay inside in the warm and dry.

I had intended to catch up on Saturday morning by tagging 10k on to the end of Parkrun, but Great Lines parkrun was a bit cold and windy, and all week I’ve had a niggling pain in my left thigh and bum cheek, so yet again the lure of my fire and a bacon butty won over the prospect of a chilly and blowy bimble around St. Mary’s Island in Chatham.

While I was hiding from the elements on Saturday morning, I thought I would at least pretend to be serious about my Race to the Stones training, so I downloaded their training plan.

I was surprised to see their suggested training plan doesn’t start until week commencing 25th February, and in that first week they only suggest running 18km, so it feels like I’m ahead of the game already. It’s not often I actually train for an event, I usually rely on my normal, quite high weekly mileage and my inbuilt will-power, stubbornness and if nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face to see me through. It normally works up to point – I’d probably run marathons a bit faster if I actually trained for them and I think the hurty bits would hurt less too.

It’s also quite heartening to see the words “Practice race pacing, which includes walking up the steeper gradients”. When I tell people “I’m running 100km” after the first question, to which the answer is “about 62 miles” the next enquiry is often about running that far non-stop. The truth is, I’m not actually running that far.

I will be propelling myself on foot over that distance but I will walk the hills. Even on a hilly marathon, such as Beachy Head, almost everyone except the hard core elite runners, walk the hills. Most ultra-runners run up any hill they can’t see the end of. On a long run like this, the speed advantage of running up a steep hill is outweighed by the conservation of energy from walking it. I may take this philosophy to another level by classing any slight incline as a ‘steep hill’.

Also, mentally, it’s important to break the distance down to manageable chunks. The aid stations on Race to the Stones are approximately 10km apart, so the next aid station will be my target – I won’t allow myself to think about anything further than that, otherwise the task becomes unimaginable. Even when I run a marathon, I don’t run a marathon in my head.

At Beachy Head, because I know the route reasonably well, I break it down into the bits between aid stations and a pub visit at 16 miles. Most marathons are in fact a half marathon, followed by a 10km, followed by two parkruns.

Anyway, back to this week. Sunday saw me get out relatively early, despite suffering from some post night duty insomnia, and do seven miles before meeting up with some fellow Rebel Runners for our regular Sunday Social six mile run, performed at a leisurely pace with a few stops to regroup and chat. Thanks to Suzanne Ward for listening to my whining, Helen Marron for providing the phone on which the picture was taken and Chris Doran for performing selfie duties.

In total, this week, despite being on night shifts and a couple of days of laziness, I appear to have run 36.8 miles, which I’m quite pleased with.

I’m raising money for the Oliver Fisher Special Care Unit Trust. The Oliver Fisher Unit is a neonatal intensive care unit at Medway Maritime Hospital. The trust supports the unit by helping fund equipment and supports parents with children in the unit. More about their work can be found here-

You can donate to my fundraising page here-