For the last two weeks I’ve done no running 😭 because of a cough. It’s not that bad but I wasn’t going to risk getting worse because I have my first ultra for the year. It’s the Thames Trot 50. A 50 mile race from Oxford to Henley following the Thames Path. Although it’s a flat race the footpaths are slippery mud baths which doesn’t allow for speed and the weather this time of the year is helping. Two years ago I stopped after 27miles because mentally I was struggling. It wasn’t just that race it was all my running at that stage. I know with my constant coughing and lack of training completing 50 miles in the 11 hour cut off is going to be tricky.
Last week was all about preparations. I’ve only done strength work and is lacking miles on my legs so the goal for this race is to test my mental stamina and fitness and to see where my weaknesses are for Fiji. Realistically I’m just going to trot and enjoy the race. No killing my self and chasing times.
Race planning is very important so let me show you how I mentally prepared for a 50 mile race.
It all start on paper 📝 If I think of the race as 50 miles my brain 🧠 will just protest… who on earth wants to run 50miles!!! So I cheat my brain! There are five checkpoints and a finish line
The distances between each checkpoint are 15.5km, 15.5km, 13km, 11km, 12km and 9km. Looking at these distances, it seems so much more achievable! You see it’s fairly easy cheat my brain. 😂
I now look at all my data which I collect during my training runs to come up with an estimate time for each distance taking in consideration the weather, fatigue, feeling poorly, lack of training and darkness towards the end of the race. This then get written up in an easy to follow race guide.
Now that I have all the details from the race as well as my times. I like to work on clock time thus the race starts at 8:30am. I need to be at checkpoint 1 at 10:30am, checkpoint 2 at 12:30pm, checkpoint 3 at 2:30pm, checkpoint 4 at 4pm, checkpoint 5 at 5:40pm and finish at 7:10. This gives me 20 minutes to play with when things doesn’t go according to plan.
It’s always important to keep an eye on the weather for the week leading up to your race. The weather forecast wasn’t great but I’m just hoping that it doesn’t rain ☔️ and wind for 11 hours!
The last thing on my to do list is kit preparation. It’s important to wear clothing that you know works. I will be trying out a new running bra which I want to use in Fiji. I’ve tried it on shorter runs so it should be fine but it’s only until you get into the shower after a run when you realised if you’ve lost any skin or not 😵
I’m also using the backpack that I’m planning to use in Fiji and the same nutrition. Everything I’m using I’ve used before so again it should be fine!
The night before the race wasn’t great because I kept coughing. The sensible part of my brain said that I shouldn’t run but I choose to ignore it and went running in anyway 😲
Well…the route was still just a big mud slide like it was before and I realised that running trough mud at a slope while coughing is the perfect recipe for falling. People pay lots of money 💰 for mud baths and I’m having it for free!
Considering the run – cough rhythm combined with getting lost twice and falling three times I reached checkpoint three only 15-minutes over my estimated time. Despite taking some medication I was still coughing but I was happy that mentally I was fine and the only muscle hurting was my biceps 💪 (note to self: add more upper body strength training for Fiji 😁).
I reached checkpoint 4 at 4:35. According to the race info the cut off was 4:40 but I was informed by the staff that it was 4:30 and I that we missed the cut off. It was annoying! I know I can do the rest but there was a part of me saying that stopping now is probably the wiser choice.
In the comfort of my warm bed I reflect on a cold muddy race.
✅ Muscular my body coped well as I can still easily climb stairs
✅Mentally I’m in a much better place to deal with the ups and downs of ultras
❎ Running while constantly coughing was a bad idea 😢
BUT I feel much better in my preparation for Fiji. I just need to stop coughing!!! 😷
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