Training Blog

The Road to an Ultra Marathon: Starting Afresh

In a way, it’s incredibly frustrating. Starting over when you’d had all those lovely base miles built up and all that training under your belt. However, these things rarely go smoothly. Life will throw it’s curveballs and you either let yourself be knocked down by them or you suck it up and do what needs to be done to get back ont he path to where you want to go. Progression isn’t linear and as a runner, learning to adapt is the key to overall progression and success.

I’m training for an Ultra Marathon. Last year I had also started training for an Ultra marathon. Obviously, the event I had intended to attend was cancelled due to Covid and initially I had planned to just do one anyway, going for the same distance and using my own route. Unfortunately, one thing I had neglected to factor into the whole scenario was my own inexperience. I woke up one morning in late August 2020 and I felt utterly drained. I didn’t want to run, I had barely any desire to move. My body and mind both felt completely empty.

It didn’t take me long to realise that I had been so eager to get to my goal that I had overtrained. Too much of a distance increase too fast, too much of my weekly mileage had been too high a pace and I had neglected to stay on top of my rest and nutrition. This all cumulated in one absolutely wiped out Jess who was not going to be able to maintain the training required to successfully complete a 50 mile/80km run in 2020.

I took a beat, dropped my weekly mileage right down and just worked on some maintainence. This did allow me to complete my first (very slow) marathon around the same time I had been intending to participate in the ultra, so the year wasn’t a write off afterall. The marathon was a great learning experience and it was good fun. Lots of valuable takeaways and plenty to carry forward.

Not too long after that curveball number two barreled through. I managed to obtain an injury by dropping my DSLR on my foot. Completely stupid and completely avoidable, but regardless, it gave me a stress fracture in my foot. No running for at least 2 months.

So here we are, April 2021, just over three months since I started to run again after my two months off. I’ve been taking things very slowly, starting off with just 5km and increasing my weekly distance gradually each week. Initially I increased it by 1km each week until I reached a total weekly distance of 10km, then I switched to a 10% distance increase per week. So far, this has worked well.

As the weekly running distance has ticked up, as have other activities. More walks and longer walks have crept their way in and my leg based strength training has upped from once a week to twice a week. Many sports facilities have been closed due to the lockdown in the UK, but outdoor bouldering and some open water swimming will be able to feature in my schedule as part of my cross training from now on. Gyms open back up in a few days.

My actual trail running has been a bit limited over the course of this most recent lockdown. I have some bits of trail local to me that I can link up and make a mostly off road route, but I’ve been starting to venture out onto proper trails again, which has been wonderful. Very excited to be doing more of that again.

In an effort to take steps towards optimising my training a bit more and avoiding the mistakes I made last year, I am also working on polarising my training and introducing regular yoga into my routine. The goal here is to make the most of my rest and recovery time, taking care of my muscles as well as giving myself space in the day to be calm and relaxed.

There’s a lot to feel good about right now. I have a solid idea of my goals and what I want to aim for. Each week I learn a bit more about running and about myself. I can’t guarantee that I will be injury free this year, but I can put everything in place to minimise that risk and to reduce the possibility of overtraining. Of course doing everything right will also mean that if I do get injured, then my recovery will be as swift as it can be!

Positive thoughts and healthy training,


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