Training Recap Week 32 – Wainstones Marathon Recce

After two weeks low intensity training I was back with a bang. Climbing Snowden and supporting Matty’s 200 mile attempt meant a change of focus. While both helped with time on my feet I need to add some intensity with just a month until my big race.

I have just four weeks of hard practice before tapering begins and my main race of the year, the Wainstones Marathon. My longest run to date is 2 hours and 30 minutes, this was 16.7 miles of the White Horse 1/2 marathon. The Wainstones Marathon will add at least two hours onto that and 10 miles, not to mention almost 3000ft of additional ascent. Clearly theres a lot of work to be done as I must increase my endurance and fast.

The week began with hill reps Tuesday, a recovery run Wednesday and a trail run around Coneysthorpe with friends Thursday. Purposeful practice is in full swing and Jayson had me scheduled for a 3 hour hilly run on Saturday, ideal opportunity to recce the Wainstones marathon course.

The race starts from Chop Gate village hall, climbing 600 foot (shown right halfway up climb) onto the Moors. The next 3 miles descend and level out before you hit the Cleveland Way and ask for your Mummy! The next five climbs are brutal and the descents a little technical with uneven stone. My plan was to do all this and then cut back to Chop Gate. This would mean I cover almost all the climbs from the race over a distance of 16.8 miles.

I’ll essentially see the first half of the route and recce the second half another week. But I was nervous about this run to say the least. Last time I ran this terrain it almost broke my calfs and left a foul taste. Anyway, making good time through the first four miles I approached the toughest stretch. The climbs from here are unrelenting, they are too steep to run but go on and on for ever. You get to the top of one climb, then struggle along the descent just to look up an even tougher climb.

Its quite challenging to go through this four times over. Pictured left is the first climb, this is the longest, past the treeline it gets steeper and keeps on going. But it was the ‘3 sisters’ (as they are known) that really stung me. I call them ‘the 3 bitches’! The picture below shows the view from one sister to the next. My heart rate soared for the next three climbs as I struggled to conserve energy. I just needed to hang onto all the reserves I could before the climbs evened out.

I managed to pull my breathing back eventually but it stayed above my usual perceived effort making this run above my intended intensity. Not sure if I could have slowed down much more, but just hoping this run will make me stronger and capable of sustaining the same pace next time with less effort. Either way, climbing 3500ft over 16.8 miles is hard work so I was happy with the 11:12 minute miles.

If I could maintain that pace another 10 miles I’d probably be looking at a top 15 finish on race day! Though I might run the risk of hitting the dreaded wall. There are still a few monster climbs in the race which add a further 1000ft of ascent and I am running on uncharted ground with that distance.

Week 32 Training Recap

Monday – Strength and conditioning

Tuesday – Hill reps – 4.44 miles

Wednesday – Afternoon 4.14 mile recovery run – Evening strength and conditioning

Thursday – steady run – 6.99 miles Off road on trails

Friday – Strength and conditioning

Saturday – LSR, Wainstones recce – 16.85 miles

Sunday – Recovery run – 4.4 miles

Totals –  = 36.82 miles  = 6hrs 14mins  = 4773ft

So, just three hard weeks remain and my programme reaches its peak next week. I’ve got more speedwork and a very hard long run on Saturday which includes some higher intensity sections built into my three hour session. Get through week 33 unscathed and I should start feeling confident. Still can’t believe I was struggling to train for flat half marathons just 7 months ago.

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Darren Smith

Training with purpose since October 2016 Darren has gone from trailing the pack to winning local races and the times keep on falling. A true believer in hard work over natural talent he writes to help others realise their true potential. Darren's race schedule for 2018 includes the Hardmoors Wainstones marathon (1st place), Keswick Mountain Festival (10th place), Scafell Skyrace and Salomon Ring Of Steall (World Championship race.)

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