January was a bit of a strange month for me. Since I have started ultra running, January has always been a steady few weeks of training, building up a solid base for the rest of the year. This time, things have been different. I've done some speed work and a couple of races, all of which have taken a toll on my usual solid month of training. I felt that February needed to be a time to get back to basics, knuckle down and just get some running done. During February, I managed this target and even put together a couple of really big weeks (for me) of 80 miles followed by 65 miles, coming through unscathed.
It is only a week to my first ultra trail race of the year (the Hardmoors 55) and I've been following a plan to get me there in reasonable shape (I hope); the plan being built around 3 pairs of back to back sessions which I also used to familiarise myself with the Hardmoors 110 route in preparation for the big race at the end of May.
I've been keeping the B2B sessions at a sensible level (generally in the 20-25 mile region) but trying to run them at a reasonable clip and have enjoyed getting out in some new places.
I'm now at the point where I no longer need to look at a map for the sections I've done a couple of times which will be one less thing to worry about in May. As an easy taster, I've also taken along my new running poles, more to try the way I might carry them and to see how easy it will be to set them up and stow them in the heat of battle - here starts the long build up to UTMB! More on the poles in another post.
With regard to the Hardmoors 55 next week, I'm really looking forward to the race, which is ironic considering I initially did not intend to race, preferring the idea of continuing my recces for the 110 race. However, one training run with Race Director, Jon Steele, and Mr Ultra, John Kynaston, soon changed my mind. So I will be toeing the start line in Guisborough at 9am on Saturday - I'm glad I am so weak willed ;-)
It will be interesting to see how the changes I have made to my training this year will translate into a race performance. I've had an extra month of training before Christmas, added speed work to the programme, changed from one 35 miler every month to 23 mile B2B's every couple of weeks and I've been doing a (little) bit of cross training on my cycle turbo trainer.
I certainly feel ready to put a race face on again, so bring it on!