First Ultra - I failed :-(

Piss poor preperation = Piss poor performance

Well that just about sums it up, this year I did a half marathon and the Essex and Halsted Full Marathon which was my furthest distance and then I decided to up the game by entering the 110th Ultimate Trails Ultra in the Lake District.

Having never run any trails before and a pair of new Brooks Cascadia 10's I turned up at midnight having been up at 8am because I've got a 1 year old. So sleep deprived myself and a friend set off, to say I didn't show this the respect it deserved was an understatement, to cut a long story short, my mate buggered his knee after 10th decending a mountain, it then took 37 minutes to cover a mile, we carried on for 61km which took 10hr 15mins and then had to pull out as he was running on cocodomole  (?) and we thought masking the pain was a bad idea and I wasn't confident enough to continue. On top of this I was shot beyond belief

So, I am determined to complete this and I have a year to train properly, and this is where I need your help 

1. I live in Essex, how on earth do I get the necessary trail experience for a race iin the Lake District

2. I take it hills, hills and more hills are the order of the day

3. What if any gym work should I be doing and how rregularly 

4. Diet, any tips?

I am prepared to do all and everything to conquer the Lake District so please advise away.

I am sitting here with both of my llegs swollen where the front of the foot meets the leg, all I can think of it setting the treadmill to full incline and pounding away for hours....This was the most sore part of my body towards the end.




  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    Hi, Muzza2.  Looks like you had a tough time out there but glad it hasn't put you off. Was that the 110K route you were attempting?  That's a very serious distance in mountain country.

    Sounds like you are building your distances up far too quickly, in which case you are risking getting injured and possibly a little demoralised.  I think a more steady approach might be called for!

    For training you need to be outside and the best way is probably to enter trail events starting with shorter distances such as marathon or 30-35 e.g. Sussex Coast (Endurancelife Mar 2016?) might be a local one or you need to be prepared to travel.

    Don't know about gym work but it is good to have a strong core so I recommend Pilates.

    That injury sounds like an inflamed tendon on the top of your foot (extensor tendonitis).  Usually due to overuse or sudden increase in running (especially uphill) but can be due simply to having you shoes tied up too tightly.  Ice and rest, or very low stress activity (with no uphills!)  A useful stretch is heel raises off a step (but not heel drops).

    I'd avoid the treadmill, especially on an incline - likely to make this injury worse.


    Let us know how you get on.

  • Muzza2Muzza2 ✭✭✭
    Hi T Rex

    Thanks for the reply, my phone decided to change km to th before I posted, yes it was the 110k distance.

    I get your point, I'm going to look at a series of events to get myself up to the distance, my concern is that I'd imagine that to be competent at trails I need to train on trails and I just don't think there's any in a practical distance. Are there any resources on the internet. All I can think of is buying an OS map and going exploring, but I doubt I can mimic Lake District terrain.

    As for my swollen parts I was thinking of incorporating the treadmill on full incline as part of my training programme to strengthen these parts.

    I woke up this morning and couldn't move my feet but a gentle walk and things have loosened up a bit but still swollen
  • Muzza2, it sounds as though you have jumped in at the deep end here and unsurprisingly it has all gone wrong! You have made the first step to rectifying things in acknowledging your lack of preparation.

    I'm a flatlander who does almost all her ultras in hilly/mountainous country. Yes, it is not as easy to train as if you live with hills on your doorstep, but it is certainly possible to be reasonably well prepared.

    First, you need to get used to general trail running. Get your local OS map, get a pack with the kit you will need and get out on your local footpaths. Yes, it is not the Lake District, but you will be surprised how many smaller hills you can find once you get off the roads. If you can't navigate, get yourself on a course.

    Once you are comfortable off road, then you can ramp things up. Shorter, hilly ultras and trail marathons, lots of LDWA events, weekend trips to hilly areas, orienteering. Any or all of these will provide small stepping stones to making your mountain ultra easier. There are plenty of good hills to be had not too far away - the North and South Downs, Surrey Hills, Peak District, etc.

    And finally, if you can, get out on the course and do lots of recces before next time. Not only do you know what you are letting yourself in for, but you are getting super specific training in at the same time!

  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    If the top of your foot and ankle hurts including the lower part of the shin DON'T go on the treadmill on an incline!!

    Also diet.  Get used to eating 'ordinary' food on the run.

    +1 about everything LNandB says

  • Hi Muzza. Sound advice from those on here. As another from relatively flat lands (plain of Holderness near Hull) I could run for miles without racking up 100ft of ascent or descent. So when I started taking on looong trails I entered lots of weekend events in hillier land in West or north Yorkshire or Peak District and made as many trips to lakes as I could (3hr+ drive even for me, so I don't get there often).

    How far is it to peak district from where you are? Its not a bad lakes substitute with some big climbs and some good long events. Also I guess you probably have events in north/south downs (which always look a bit like the Wolds to me and should offer a few good challenges)? or over a bit west. Many LDWA challenge events now welcome runners and are great uncompetitve and cost effective ways to run LSRs with bonus of food on route and at end.

    More recently I have more responsibilities so I have to train more time-efficiently for hills. Nearest hills to me are chalk hills of Wolds. They aren't big, but having learnt the paths by experience I can chalk up routes with equivalent foot-per-mile of UT110k or greater, just instead of a few 500-1000ft+ climbs in say a 20mile stretch, I have lots of 150-500footers to challenge me.

    I think is worth its very minimal subscription cost. You get all uk maps and can plot a route against the paths which will also calculate the amount of climb and you can get a nice hill profile as you go. You'll probably find great undulating routes not far away you didn't know existed. You can then print off map with route-line superimposed, just the sheets you need so you don't have to carry a full OS map with you. You can also download the gpx file to upload to your nav device if it supports - or use a web service like to convert and upload to 'some' garmin wrist GPS as a course so you can follow a breadcrumb trail. You can also save routes to reference later or share.

    And if you haven't got time to get to nearest hills or an event  in hills you could always run a flatter route a bit faster on nearby trails to get your legs used to hard work on uncertain footings. Paths around field edges or sometimes across fields in farming areas can be really hard work and a pretty good substitute - especially in the winter months.

    Best of luck. We've probably all been there and under the circumstances a good first try.

  • Muzza2Muzza2 ✭✭✭
    Thanks for comprehensive answer Drunken Euphoria on tour, I'm afraid due to lack of internet connection here in the Lake District mine is going to have to be brief.

    I live in Billericay, Essex and as you I've got responsibilities , namely a 14 month old son so heading off for the weekend isn't an option, however giving up my lie in, getting up at 6am and heading out for 6 hours or so is, so I really need to find the best compromise that fits onto my lifestyle.
  • Similar compromise here Muzza2 as have 2.5 year old). Means I can rarely find time to do big mile weeks comprising lots of hilly trail and do less yearly miles than at peak in 2012. And I do probably max 5 to 10 whole days or overnights-days away a year now. But with more efficient use of time I've definitely become a better long distance trail runner (and better all round runner). One thing I didn't touch on above is that I do a few road runs each week out of necessity, but try and make these count with a 'every run has a purpose attitude - no junk miles just to record a big weekly target.' E.g. my typical week when training for something hilly - at present TDS - is something like below:

    Sat or Sun - LSR (most weeks on hills, aiming for 200 foot-per-mile asc and desc - so plenty of walking. Most weeks done on Yorkshire Wolds so climbs or 150-500ft and lots of them. Usually an early start to be done by 10-11am. Occasionally swing a longer pass to get a 20m+ in or go to an event - e.g. did a couple of legs BGR support a few weeks back)
    Mon - 'Loosener' run after work (usually 3-5m around Hull town centre)
    Tue - leave car at home and AM short run in to work with quite heavy pack containing breakfast, lunch, work clothes. PM - hard session (e.g. reps, fartlek, tempo) to get home.
    Wed or Thu - flat/hilly trail run after work (depending on time available as flat trails closer to home). If really short of time my I run from office and do continuous ascents/descents of service staircase in local 13 storey building.
    Fri - before work, trail run, different to the Wed/Thu run (will do hills this day if did flat that day).

    Doing the commute runs on Tuesday gets me some good miles in as 3m into work doesn't take me that much longer than my car commute would. And doing the hard run home means I get lots of miles in short time. Things like this reduce my away from family time a lot.

    6 hours one day at weekend is plenty and gives you some drive time to find a hilly area to log a few hours in OR a really long run wherever to work on your endurance.

  • Snap!Snap! ✭✭✭

    Get yourself in shape for this: 

    and then there's any number of hilly 50 milers that come up in the spring. 

    The SDW50 would be about right for you:

    I have two young children so it's always a balancing act. I'm a hands-on Dad so the killer for me was the weekend long runs - xc marathon and an xc half at the very least every weekend.

    However, I've heard said that if you can cover the race distance in your combined weekly runs every week, however you split it up, then you've probably got enough in the bag to get round the course so long as you stay injury free. Some one will probably shoot me down in flames for saying it but that makes fitting your runs in round your family much easier.

    And unless you're competing at the front, there's really no point in pushing yourself too hard and risking injury. I can run 10k with sore calves, or blisters, or a tight IT band, but 50 miles? No thanks.

    So, 'better under-trained than over-injured'.


  • Hi Snap! My only difference from you there is I'd say that you don't need to be banging out say 70m every week for months before if training for that distance. A few weeks of that near peak would be enough for me as long as I had done a few build up events at regular intervals along the way (e.g. a 30-50 at some point and about a 40-60% distance LSR about a month before).

    Interesting blog I read last night - - good look at what the technical composition of your targtted trail ultra miles probably should.

  • ...although being realistic and with a target event of 70m with 7000 metres asc, I'm unlikely to get near that many weeks. Just do the best I can, this week hope to do near 50m and 3000m (most of this in a 6m hill reps session I've done this morning and a 24m outing on Sunday). Though with 7.5 weeks to go some weeks I should do a bit better as I have a few days on Cambrian way planned and the Peaks Skyrace start of August.

  • I thought that was a good article DEoT, although also a bit pie in the sky for me!

    Muzza, if it helps to reassure, I also have 2 young children (4 and 2) and so training has to be balanced with family time. I tend to average about 40 miles a week, with peak weeks at 50-55 miles. That is about as much as I can manage without feeling like I am compromising the other areas of my life. As I start to get a bit more experience and my body is more used to the mileage, I am now trying to do more structured speedwork alongside just knocking out the miles, as I am unlikely to be able to get my mileage much higher until the children are a good bit older!

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