The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Walk On

At my level, there's been a lot of walking involved during the two WHW races I've completed.  Obviously there are sections where I have no alternative but to slow to a walk, the steep uphill sections and loch side for instance.  Later in the race, fatigue usually meant completing the last section with very little running.
This is fine if there's plenty of time to complete the section but I won't have this on the DC110.

It's surprising just how much time and energy the Cateran terrain can demand.  After the steep start, I can honestly say there weren't too many steep up hills all the way to Blairgowrie, yet the 23 mile journey still took me 5 hours.  I've already said I'll settle for that time on race day but it's how my legs felt which was a slight concern.  If this was running the 55, it would be a case of getting my head down and just toughing it out to the end, probably walking a good part of it.

This obviously won't be an option during the 110, especially only being a quarter of the way in.  During training I am finding it difficult to find and stick to my perfect ultra pace for this distance.  I would settle for around 12 minute miles on the flat to conserve energy for the whole race but find my pace creeping up to 10 minute miles, sometimes just under.  This pace ends up being too fast and after five or six hours I start running out of energy.  It's then a battle of will to keep running as much as possible, sometimes alternating between running and walking as mentioned on previous posts.

Why am I blogging this?  Well recently I turned the spotlight on walking.  During my first Speyside Ultra, a runner breezed pass me on an uphill section.  Both of us were walking but the other runners technique was so much stronger and better.  It's now time to build up strength for uphill walking.  Anyone who has been to Aberdeen will know the state of traffic, commuting to Dyce in particular is a nightmare.  Lynne and I came up with the idea of parking on the outskirts and walking the mile to and from work.  This was the perfect opportunity to build up leg muscles for power walking.  It wasn't long before I could feel the effects, particularly on my shins.  It's surprising how little I was walking in the past, even while training for ultra races so I'm sure this fast walking will help in future events.

My training has been going as well as expected for the amount of weekly miles I can fit in.  On the positive side of things I have been on the hills a few times, completed some long runs including the D33, ran brisk shorter distances and avoided running related injuries.  The negatives?  The back to back weekend long runs were dropped a while back, I've neglected building up core strength and I don't stretch, even though I know I should.

Thursday evening sees the second recce of the Cateran trail, a night time run which I am really looking forward to.  This will be a chance to test all gear and equipment I'll be using on race day.
This is rest week, so I don't intend doing much more than the night Cateran run.  I'll use the weekend for a bit of recovery.

Mon 4  Tues 6  Wed 15  Thurs 6  Sat 29  Sun 7.  Weekly total 67 miles.


  1. I have started adding walking too, albeit initially prompted by an calf injury. If we are expecting to walk 20 to 30% of long race then it has to make sense to spend a proper amount of time walking during training.

    Run walk strategy will be an effective way to minimize the energy costs, and spread the accumulation of muscle damage. Most of use probably don't adopt run/walk early enough in a race for it to be as beneficial as it could be, and I'm sure most runners much prefer to be running in training than walking so short change walking preparation. I know I sit in the category, the only time that I walk is when I injured or when walking round the shops with the family...

    Walking to/from work is good idea, a bit of training without working up too much of a sweat, and will be mean you are doing "doubles" like the elite distance runners ;-) Each bout of exercise we do our bodies release a bit of growth hormone which helps with subsequent recovery, so do a couple of walks each day will provide a bit of stimulus for you body to recover from more intense training sessions, as well as develop the muscles, tendons, ligaments and neural pathways for efficient and strong walking.

    The only thing I'd caution is that power walking too fast uphill can push your heart rate up significantly, higher than you'd see when running on the flat, so if you don't take care the uphill sections can still burn away your precious reserves of glycogen, generate heat stress, slow down digestion etc.

    If you don't have a heart rate monitor to judge work level to a fine degree then try running and walking with your mouth closed. Also be aware of heat build up, if you are getting hotter than you are generating heat quicker than you can loose it, you body will respond by sweating more, but at the cost of dehydration if you stay too hot for too long. If you can spot the early signs of push on too hard you can ease off before you go too far our of homo-stasis.

    Good luck with the training.

    1. Hi Robert, appreciate the feedback. Good points which I'll take on board, thanks.

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