It’s been a while since I updated things on here. I guess after a shocking start to 2019 I kept myself to myself, but with Western States just a few weeks away now I wanted to jot down a few thoughts.
Following an MRI scan back in February, I was given the all clear to run again the day before I flew to Gran Canaria. Whilst unable to run the race itself, it was great to land and get a first jog done, in the esteemed company of Chris Jones and Damian Hall. It was only a mile, on pavement at night, but boy did it feel good. I finally felt unshackled again.
Over the next few weeks, I started to build up the miles slowly and in all honestly, for the first time since becoming a runner, I felt a little nervous. My cardiologist had said it was fine to train again and raise my heart rate, but at the same time to build up slowly, so March was a month of cautious optimism.
As April rolled around, I was conscious of the South Downs Way 50 getting closer and closer. Initially I had planned to run this following the all clear, as a confidence booster as I built back up to Western States. However, the week prior I made the call to withdraw as I was concerned it may have been a confidence damager and have the exact opposite effect that I was looking for. Since then, I have very much kept the training to myself but I am happy to report I am feeling really good again, finally.
As it stands, I am doing 50-60 miles a week. This is a lot lower than in previous seasons but it feels right. The one thing I consistently read about WS is that it is always better to go in slightly undertrained, than overtrained. So my focus is on hills and heat during the week, to get the quads ready and the body acclimated, and a long run at the weekends. I tend to run Monday to Thursday around 30 miles in total, take Friday off, have a 30 mile long run Saturday and then again take Sunday off. This feels good and about right.
Heat wise, every short run is now in a down jacket and warm hat which is working well and the long run in race day gear. I am starting to think a lot about race day and whilst initially I planned to run with just two handheld bottles, I am now veering towards a lightweight race vest. This won’t be to carry much as I plan to still use handhelds, but is more to be able to store ice during the heat of the day to keep my core as cool as I can.
With 10-15 volunteers for every runner, my every need will be catered to on the day so aside from a few emergency gels, I don’t intend to carry anything aside from water and tailwind, to keep my pack weight to an absolute minimum.
As I get closer I will talk a little about the kit I plan to use but for now, it is head down and just enjoying as many miles as I can. I am still a little sluggish from the two months off at a time of year I don’t enjoy at the best of times, so I am focussed on eating well and trying to get to the start line in as lean a shape as possible, but I have accepted I will be heavier than I ideally would have liked. I would rather than go in a little heavy, than focus too much on weight loss and go in lighter but weaker, so I am accepting how things are whilst also eating and training as sensibly as I can.
Four big weeks of training are now coming up and then a gentle two week taper.