I have ended my 3 month base phase (I will post numbers in next blog entry) and I am using this first week of April as a time to reflect. This weekend I was at the Fling training camp and ran 34 miles on the course. I expected the 34miles to go well, to be a bit hard, but not too hard. It was a chance to recce the only part of the Way I did not know, the low road, to get time on the feet, try out nutrition and train on the technical Loch side terrain.
My legs were not the limiting factor. Despite hiking a mountain and running down it two days earlier and then a pretty speedy hilly 4 mile run the night before, my legs felt strong the entire way. However, my heart and lungs did not. This is not new, the feeling reminded me of when I was teen running for my school. It was always my lungs, not my legs that held me back. A tightness on my chest and what I can only describe as a tired heart made me afraid to push on through the rollerocaster forest and I walked quietly home grateful for the company of another WHWrace hopeful. I ended the run VERY tried and this left me worried about the WHWrace. However, I was very sleep deprived before this run and the next day I was fine enough to run again and my nutrition went well.
So, the next training phase was to do some ‘race specific’ training. Though I am not sure what that means… some night running or tired fasted running?? But, refining my current fitness will not help me finish faster if I cannot finish. So I am turning my attention to addressing my weaknesses, the things that could stop my forward progress come race day. After the 34 miles I have chosen these things to work on (as well as my normal training).
- The heart and lung discomfort – I have been asthmatic and on inhalers all my life until November last year. I will go back and speak to the Dr and find out if this was the correct decision. They test you sat in a warm office, not after 8 hours of running in cold air. The other cause of chest pain could be heartburn. I suffer GI issues when under stress, whether general anxiety or the physical stress of running all day. I think for now I will have to live with this. However, antacids could help the chest pain so I will take some and avoid acidity foods before the Fling to see if things improve.
- My core – with a big pack on and running that long my lower back was very very tight by the end and quite painful. This is a lack of adequate core strength. Work on core daily.
- Anxiety and race stress – general anxiety is a huge problem for me in daily life and race anxiety causes me to get exhausted before the race has started. I show anxiety outwardly by getting very overexcited and wiping myself out before I get going. I have been practising calmness at my last few races. Last year, anxiety was a big issue on my London to Manchester bike ride where my HR was 30 bpm higher then it should have been all day. Once day 1 was done I relaxed into day 2 and felt amazing despite very little sleep. Practising being calm, doing pre-race visualisation and getting super organised before the race will help.
- Race crew – having my crew fully prepared will undoubtledy help me finish. An unorganised crew could mean I drop out. I need to make sure I communicate well with them ahead of the race. I need to practise visualisation of checkpoints and what I will do/need if things go wrong (and they will), work out some honest time frames for checkpoints and set clear expectations.
- The Why – really tap into why I am doing this so I can draw on that motivation in the race when I need it. More reflection required!
Addressing my anxiety, working on core strength and organising myself are what I perceive as my biggest factors for improvement for ensuring a successful West Highland Way Race. I will obviously, keep running too.