Seven weeks post Double Bob Graham Blog
How I'm Recovering and also Preparing
For my next Challenge; the Ultra Tour Mont Blanc in 6 weeks!
Double Bob Graham Recovery
Week 1 - I didn't run !! I felt I could have but I was very busy on the farm as Steve was away and also with the media frenzy. Sleep was the main problem as I was waking at 3am from a nightmare in which my lower legs were huge and I had pins & needles in my feet. I was dreaming that I couldn't walk and so after checking the size of my legs I had to get out of bed just to convince myself that I could actually walk. A massage with Jeff Cole on Thursday sorted this problem. I wasn't as hungry as I imagined I would be; I think this is because I ate well on the round. I spent the week in a sort of satisfied daze and was grateful to Lee Proctor for sorting the media out.
Week 2 - I offered to support Steve Sanders on his Bob Graham on the Saturday- but on the roads. On the day though I felt ok and so set off from Dunmail with the group. The attempt was aborted in the Langdales as the weather was atrocious so I ran back to the van at Dunmail. About 5 hours steady. Then on the Monday I did the Summer Series race which was a short one at 4 miles - Results The rest of the week I had two massages - with Jeff Cole and Claire Sykes and rested as I had entered the Jura Fell Race. Steve and I travelled up on the Friday and ran the race in brilliant conditions on the Saturday. I set off very steadily and just waited to see what the legs felt like. When I reached the Paps I realised that descending was unpleasant as my ankles felt very fragile so I was afraid of falling but on the climbs the legs were strong so I used that to my advantage. My main aim was not to go wrong and to get under 4.45 hours so I would get a whisky glass. I achieved both these aims! Results
Week 3 - Having entered the Hallam Chase I dutifully turned up although I really doubted my sanity as this is one short, hard race with steep climbs and descents on road; all of which I knew would not be good for my legs or ankles. I was given a nice handicap though and tried to "not race" on the downhills and again pushed hard on the climbs. Results That Saturday I did the Duddon Fell Race on a hot day. For 3/4's of the race I felt worse than on Jura. The legs were heavy and ached. I drank a lot, ate the 4 gels and jelly babies I had and everything I was offered too - quite a lot of sweets in the end. From halfway I tagged onto Dave Sykes and really just kept my head down following his footsteps. Then on Dow Crag my energy returned and I pushed on. Catching the 3rd Lady was a boost and kept me going to the finish. I was about 8 mins off my pb which was pleasing. Results This fluctuation in tiredness and performance I find is quite normal; sometimes it's the legs and sometimes it's the body. I just back off, eat everything, drink a lot, then see what happens.
Week 4 - I took it easy during the week doing a couple of short gentle runs as I had offered to support Kirsty Hewitson on her Paddy Buckley and wanted to be able to keep up. We set off in reasonable conditions on the Saturday and made up 10 minutes on the 1st leg from Capel Curig to Aberglasyn. I found the first climb up Moel Siabod hard then the rest of the leg was comfortable. I was then able to rest until midnight when I supported from Llanberis to Ogwen. This was still in the dark - and the clag so navigating was paramount. I think I was concentrating so much I didn't notice the pace and the legs were good; even on the last very long descent to the road! Kirsty went onto finish in 23.24 hours.
Week 5 - On the Monday I did Summer Series race and again just took it steady being very careful not to twist an ankle on the very uneven ground - Results The rest of the week was steady short runs as I felt tired and the legs sore. On Friday I supported the Dark Peak Bob Graham attempt on Leg 1 then had a weekend off to celebrate my Aunt's 80th and my surviving cancer 10 years.
Week 6 - Another Summer Series Race and having rested I decided that now I was going to start training again - I have the UTMB on August 26th and although I need to recover I also want to improve my speed. So try I did - and it worked! I still had to be careful about the descents but I tried hard on the climbs. The legs felt good and I had energy. Results On Thursday I started doing my "long runs" again. These are 10/12 miles with climb of 1000ft if possible run at a good pace and importantly without much stopping. I felt tired but stuck with the pace running with friends that are faster than me. That weekend I supported Adam Perry in the Lake District - on Saturday although I spent 7 hours running round the Langdales I only did 12 miles steadily as I was due to support properly on Sunday. Sadly for Adam he had to abort beforehand as he was behind schedule and so unfortunately I never got to run on Sunday. It was maybe a good thing as my right ankle was sore.
Week 7 - A very frustrating week as we were silaging in the rain for most of it so the first time I got to run was Thursday. Therefore I planned a 12 mile run with two big climbs. I ran with Damien and Jon from Penistone; I was stronger on the climbs and they were on the descents so it made for a good run. I the raced at Thurlstone Chase on the Saturday which I found hard because it's quite flat and very fast running. My quads complained bitterly afterwards and throughout Sunday when I did a long run of 20 miles round the Peak District with Carla.
I have been stretching and on the wobble board for my ankles and calves since the BG and so now included quad stretches and rolling into the routine. It's a faff but I make myself do my stretching daily. I remember reading Victoria Wilkinson in the Fellrunner saying "Fell runners spend so much time running and yet can't make the time; just 10 minutes a day - to stretch".
Week 8 - The stretching worked as on Monday my legs coped well with the Summer Mondays race - I was able to push hard on the climbs but as usual take it steady on the downhills and the flat was purgatory - Results This week I did a long run on Thursday (10 miles 600m climb) and the Wasdale Fell Race on Saturday which I have written up in such a way to help other runners cope with the conditions we got - 2016 Wasdale Race report
Conclusion - Eight weeks after the Bob Graham and I feel my energy levels have returned to normal. I'm sleeping well and recovering from races quickly. My feet and ankles are taking longer. The skin is peeling off in places on my feet. This always happens after I have done a 100 miles plus race - usually everywhere that on the race I felt a sore spot. It doesn't hurt as the skin underneath has hardened. My ankles still feel delicate and I have tweaked both of them on separate occasions. I have to be very careful and concentrate on uneven ground. I'm stretching, using the wobble board and having massages.
Ultra Tour Mont Blanc Preparation
Training - Over the next five weeks I'm going to concentrate on three elements;
1) Speed work either by doing sprints or short races - as I believe this benefits me even when running Ultra distances.
2) Long hilly runs and back to back days in the mountains - to keep the ascent in my legs and also so I can practice with my pack, shoes and food.
3) Long races - either fell races with lots of climb or trail races - to get me mentally attuned for running competitively. Also to train my mind and body to run hard when they are tired.
Race Research and Preparation
On the L'Echappee Belle in 2015 I got very sore heels and so I am currently trying to get rid of hard skin and cracks on my feet this year with a pumice stone and by applying Compeed Cracked Heel cream. I am also eating a good balanced diet with red meat once a week and lots of fresh vegetables and getting plenty of sleep.
I have started looking at the route profile, the checkpoints, the distances between each one and the food which is on offer there. In 2014 my pack was very heavy as I carried a lot of my own food. On the E'Chappee Belle I practiced eating the food at the CP's and perfected noodle soup digestion! I have also studied the Compulsory Kit List and am looking at ways of cutting weight and pack size by ordering lightweight waterproofs and also making sure I have everything on the list as I don't do last minute panic shopping!
I need to finalize my choice of shoe soon and have already tried out the X Claw which I'm very impressed with; these are the shoes I supported Kirsty on her Paddy Buckley wearing. I was very pleased with the grip on the grass but especially the Welsh rocks. The support felt good and stable. Then also I couldn't feel the sharp rocks on the sole of my feet. So all in all a very good allrounder; especially as they were straight out the box! The next shoes I will try are the Trail Talon as these are the new version of the Ultra 290's which I wore for the E'Chappee Belle in 2015. I think I will also definitely take my Roadclaw's as having worn them for 16 hours on the Double Bob Graham I know exactly how they would perform. The decider really is what grip I need as all the above shoes have cushioning which I think is the most important quality for the UTMB as it's 75% hard packed trails.
The other thing I have started to collect is all the periphery stuff I might need such as poles, heel pads, insoles, plasters and ointments. These I will repack into little containers so that I can carry a little of everything I need.
If you would like to learn more from me about Ultra Race and 24 Hr Round training, preparation and success then I'm running a one day course on 22nd October which you can book here