Monthly Archives: November 2015

Training for Ultra

It is now 10 weeks until Tarawera and my training is well underway…these past two weeks were my first ones fully into it…and oh my god it is exhausting! Fitting it in between work, socializing and sleeping…thank god I am only doing 60km, I can’t imagine how much more time I would have to commit if I was doing the 100km option!

I’ve had a few people ask me “So are you running like every day?” or “I see you at the gym way more than on the road”, so I thought I would set out what my training has been this past week…it has required a lot of 6am starts and many nights I get home after 8pm…I think I saw my flatmate once this entire week as a result!

Monday:

6pm: 20 minutes of core work followed by 4x500m sprints followed by stair work (the Vista steps, approximately 120 steps total…a series of single step repeats followed by double step ones)

7pm: Restorative yoga

Tuesday:

6:30am: Running specific strength (single leg squats, single leg calf raises (I am up to 18kgs on those!! I started with 6kg months ago!), lateral weighted lunges, 40-50kg deadlifts, hip abduction with band, side plank hip abductions, and a number of core exercises)

5:45pm: Metabolic (this week’s class involved sprints, jump squats (which killed me after Monday’s stair session!), burpees and 10 minutes of killer core work

6:15pm: Personal training with the amazing Mish, this week was some nice upper body work

Wednesday:

7:15am: Run technique

7pm: Restorative yoga

Thursday:

7am: 20 minutes of core/prehab work

1pm: 3x2km threshold repeats with 1.5km warm up and 1.5km warm down, totalling 9km (I managed 8:46, 8:45 and 9:03 for my 2kms so was very happy)

Friday:

6:30am: Running specific strength (a repeat of the above Tuesday morning circuit) + bench presses and push ups

Saturday:

12pm: 24km Skyline return – 12km running (90 minutes) and 12km steady walking back (110 minutes) – in 45km/hr gusts – it was SO exposed and windy!

And Sunday (tomorrow) is going to involve some chest/back/arm work at the gym plus foam rolling,  stretching and resting my little legs.

So yes…training has started to take over my life, and I feel like I am living at the gym.  However, my body is now used to waking up at 6am (It doesn’t want to, but it doesn’t complain as much as it did a few weeks ago) and I am starting to organize my meals a bit better, looking after my nutrition and ensure I am eating well.  Probably not eating enough though – this past week I have been SO much hungrier and in need of food.  Thursday afternoon after my 9km at lunchtime, I had lunch immediately after (a quinoa, avocado, smoked tofu, cucumber, tomato and hummus bowl) but within 2 hours I could hear my stomach rumbling!  So I have to start bringing more snacks to work and making sure I am getting enough protein in each meal to help my body recover.

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Saturday’s gorgeous run along the Skyline

But despite the exhaustion I am currently trying to overcome, I am LOVING the training.  I feel like I am getting so much stronger in my legs, working my way up to 3 sets of 12 18kg single leg calf raises.  And today’s run was SO beautiful.  It was warm (18 degrees) with the sun shining and not a cloud to be seen, and it was very windy (average 47 km/hr northerly gusts, and in some parts I had to stop running because the wind was actually pushing me over and making me trip over rocks etc).  But it was just so beautiful.  I had never done the Skyline before so was a bit nervous, trying out a new route, but it was really easy to follow.

The Wellington City Council has a great brochure with information about the route available online. But it says it takes 5 hours to walk one way, and it also made it seem much longer than 12km given you run from Johnsonville to Khandallah, Ngaio, Wilton and then Karori.  However with a bit of googling and checking other people’s blog posts, I found confirmation that it was only 12km, so I didn’t need to worry (the last thing I wanted to do was to run and find that it was like 20km, resulting in me being stranded at the other end!!)

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The Skyline run – I started at the northern end, ran south west to Karori, then turned around and back to Johnsonville

There were only one or two times where I thought ‘where do I go now?’ but that is part of the fun…exploring nature, adventuring and feeling like you are in the wild!  I started from the Johnsonville end at Carmichael Street, and ran all the way to Karori (by Karori Park/Makara Road).  That was 12km, and I then turned around and walked the 12km back…which was actually pretty tough! I think that running you get into a rhythm and it is easier to just keep going, walking I could feel my glutes and the ground a bit more and slowed down a few times.

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So beautiful – so blessed to live with this trail only 15 minutes drive away!

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Sheep!

But I just focused on the scenery and the stunning views on either side of me, and the fact that the faster I walked back, the faster I could have a glass of nice ice cold chocolate soy milk (bribery and mind games – they work like a charm!). The entire 24km had a 1,000 elevation gain, constantly going between 230m and 430m with numerous peaks to run up and down. Also burned approximately 1,400 calories – great given that I splurged a bit last night at our work team’s get away, having a second serving of dessert, and a few glasses of wine!

The elevation profile – cumulative 1,000m gain

I also got more experience in my trail running shoes (which I LOVE) and using my awesome Ultimate Direction women’s ultra vesta hydration pack, and also figured out that I enjoy eating bananas on long trail runs, but not frooze balls so much.  And afterwards, knowing that I did 24km in that weather when I could have easily said no, was so rewarding.  It gave me a big mental boost, making me think ‘you can actually do this’ – which I need to keep telling myself!

FullSizeRender(1).jpgBut I am now looking forward to my ‘rest’ day tomorrow – my one day off before starting another 6 days that look very similar to the above plan…except next Saturday’s run is going to be 36km around the bays…which again, will be an awesome challenge mentally and physically.  I haven’t done 36km in a long time, hopefully I survive!

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Three Months to Ultra

A few months ago I made a decision to do something that excites…and scares me.  After quietly contemplating the idea for a few weeks, doing a bit of research and speaking to a few people about it, I finally decided to take the plunge.  The decision? To enter the Tarawera Ultramarathon.

Yep, an ultra.  A distance longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.2 km (26.2 miles). In the Tarawera race, there are three options: 00km, 85km and 60km.  For my first, I decided to play it safe, and smart, and go for the 60km option.  Still crazy, still insanely long, and still rather scary.   

Even after taking the plunge, registering online, paying my entry and even posting an update on my Facebook about this insane goal,  my entry still didn’t feel 100% real. It still felt so far away, with so many opportunities to back out, so it hadn’t completely sunk in.  So of course, with a new goal, and a new hobby, I had to go shopping! I felt completely unprepared for what trail running was going to bring – what do I wear what do I eat what do I bring how do I do it!?!?  However, I soon stopped freaking out and purchased some ultra essentials:

  • An Ultimate Direction hydration pack – I bought the ‘Ultra Vesta‘ pack, designed by Jenny Jurek (wife of vegan ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek), designed specifically for running and for women, and it had numerous good reviews online
  • A really good running rain jacket – this decision took FOREVER to make, and I ended up going for the more stylish and perhaps less practical choice, being a Lululemon jacket…it still cost over $200…and to be honest was one of the best items of clothing I have ever bought!!!
  • Trail running shoes – yes, not hybrids, but complete trail shoes, shoes that should not be worn on the road.  Another $200 but a necessary investment – again after talking to numerous people, lots of online research and visiting stores, I purchased the Brooks Cascadia from my friend Anna at Shoe Clinic – they are so comfortable and stable and provide so much support to my feet, I love them!  They also have an awesome hot pink color underneath…

Shoes copyGosh who would have thought that running a trail ultra-marathon would be so expensive! The funny thing that even after spending about $500 on the above, it still didn’t sink in that ‘Ok you are running 60km, you are actually doing this.’ Because I wore my Lulu jacket running normally, I used my hydration pack while hiking in South Africa and my trail shoes I wore them in and got them muddy doing normal trail runs with the WoRM group.  However, things have now got very real.

The race is just three months away.  How did that happen! In three months today I will have finished a 60km race, I will be tired and aching and probably have a beer in my hand, being looked after by my supportive partner and other friends who are going to make the trip up that weekend.  I expect I will experience a range of emotions, not just after the run but also beforehand and during, and need to start training myself emotionally to harden up and thrive off pain and despair (how uplifting!).  But I also need to start doing some serious training.  Luckily, I have a three month training plan all set up, starting tomorrow.  It is a bit daunting, looking at what the next three months will bring.  The gym and the trails are going to be my new home, and I am going to have to explore some new trails and get used to training no matter what the weather.   But it is three months to ultra – this training plan and the lead up to the ultra is just what I needed for it to set in.  I am doing this – I am actually doing this.

And if at any point denial starts to set in, all I have to do is go to the 2016 Starters Page…where my name is listed.  How cool is that? A race where my name features on their website! You can scroll through and see who else has entered, what countries people are traveling from, and how many people have entered the various distances.  It makes me feel much less alone.

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