Upping the Daft Ante

Looking back to last year, various points this year, and now, even, I recall stating quite clearly that I would no longer be attempting anything longer than a marathon. Yet I have just finished trying to work out when I need to pack up my bag with the essential kit listed in the pre-race e-mail for the 50-kilometre Ultra Tour of Edinburgh. If this was the be-all and end all then one may conclude that I was just trying to make the best use of the Rat Race Events Season ticket we purchased for 2019 – after all, wasn’t that why we did the 60-mile Ultra Tour of Arran? Actually, I think that was Jamie’s daft idea… But, no, the 50k event coming up this weekend is in-fact not the daftest thing about this week.

The daftest thing I’ve done this week was enter the doubly-long Isle of Wight Challenge. Again.

Having somehow concluded that my withdrawal from the event in 2017 somewhere around the 80-kilometer mark meant there was ‘unfinished business’ I have gone all Rocky 2 on the situation and re-entered the 2019 bout.

Having now read the synopsis of Rocky 2 (as I’ve not seen it in a very long time) I realise that I am actually being Apollo Creed. Creed is the one that feels like the ‘business is unfinished’ and begging for the rematch that – spoiler alert – doesn’t end well for him. Aww nuts.

Anyway – so whilst this race is only 10km more than the event completed earlier this year on Arran it is a 1-day event rather than 2. Perhaps this time I should pay more attention to those 100km training guides I found before… or just stick to spin classes and pull-ups.

Onward to Arran!

Let’s assess what I said I would do:

1. Assuming I can manage 20miles/week on my first week back comfortably I should be fine. If I’m really struggling then there will need to be some re-consideration on my part. 

2. I will probably need to up my distance more rapidly than the guides stipulates three weeks in to ‘catch-up’; but this I’ll have to keep an eye on.  

3. Get some actual yoga sessions in.

4. Get a flu shot.

Me, 13th January 2019

OK – so I didn’t do 20miles/week on my first week back. Perusing the training forum I don’t think I clocked a 20mile week until w/c 4th February – almost a month later.

The following statement probably sums up my training: 

Was supposed to run 20mi on the weekend (like 10mi/day) – but spent Saturday hung over then Sunday I…just didn’t. 

Me, 4th February 2019

Or this one:

My plan for this morning to do a 20miler went out the window as I was supremely hungover and did not get out of bed until 1400… 

Me, 23rd February 2019 

That said, the day after saying this I did do 28miles (although 10 of that was walking…). That made my first 20mile+ week! (I think, I was a bit too lazy to actually check all the numbers).

Now, I did say some re-consideration may be needed on my part. Sensibly, yes – daftly, no. Last week I did manage 20mi/13mi back-to-back. Although none of the races we’ve done so far have been over a marathon distance… actually…I don’t think I’ve done a marathon yet this year…oh dear… 


OK, anyway – looking at the cut-off times for the Ultra Tour of Arran, they are 12hrs/day and right now I feel that I am able to comfortably meet that timing. Although I will not be running the whole thing. Sorry – but I think a heavy amount of walking will be on the menu.  

But, surely on the other 3 points I’ve done better? Based on the above I think we can skip over point #2 and get straight onto yoga! 

Well, whilst I didn’t go to a tonne of yoga classes I did spend lots of time stretching – until early March. At this point I started having some knee problems and calf issues. So, I’ve cut back on stretching, focusing instead on cross training on the bike (lots of spinning) in the last weeks leading up to the event.

Also, I didn’t get a flu shot. 

Ok, so I’m batting 0/4 going into the first ultra-marathon of the year. But, based on my running to date I am confident I will be able to complete it through adequate pacing. Two weeks to go, yay…

Don’t try this at home… 

Daft Training – The Road to Arran

Disclaimer: This is not a guide on how you should train. Rather some thoughts on how I might train.

In previous years I have mostly relied on my normal fitness levels to get me through races. Sure, I’ve added in training runs, but I’ve never actually followed a guide to get to an ‘optimal’ training level. This has served me pretty well – whilst I’ve not really been hitting quick times, I’ve still been able to complete the majority of the events I’ve entered. Those I haven’t attended have mostly been down to logistics – I.e. getting time and money to get there in time for the start. Exceptions to this have been pulling out at ~80km of the 100+km Isle of Wight Challenge as my feet were so ruined I wasn’t able to manage much more than a shuffle and… it being cold and wet for an obstacle run we were in wave 13 for and electing to go to a pub instead of queuing in the rain to climb over a wall or whatever. 

Coming to this year of Daft Running, this was going to be my approach again – work out more, work out longer and make sure to get a training run in that is close to the distance(s) covered at some point before the race. Alas we are two weeks into 2019 and I have been out with the flu for most of it. It is still lingering and going to impact my daft over-training regimen I had planned – and Jamie has completed 2 more events than I have this year. 

As the first big challenge this year is the Ultra Tour of Arran (UTA) – one that was on the borderline between ‘daft’ and ‘stupid’ to start with, I thought it would make sense to find out how one is ‘supposed’ to train for such an event. 

Utilising all my skills of googling I have discovered… I probably don’t have enough time to training properly. 


Let me stress here, before someone reads this as ‘well, this guy is doing it without training, I’m gonna go from my couch-to-5k app and sign up for the same event!’: 

  1. If that’s something you want to do, then sure. But I’m not accountable for how that works out for you. There’s plenty to be said for mental toughness, but remember even David Goggins struggled through his first 100k and he was a Navy Seal at the time (or recently retired). If you’re reading something about training expectations from me, I doubt you’ve been part of some elite military unit.  
  2. I have been doing marathon+ distances every year since 2014; including events where I have been particularly ill prepared. Granted others have been doing this for decades, all I’m saying is that at this point I have some idea of what I can do and how my body feels in certain states of distress whilst running! 

What I’ve learned: 

  • Searching for ‘back-to-back marathon training’ seems to identify training for marathons a few weeks after the first, which is swell but doesn’t help when it’s the next day. Unfortunately, being camped in the middle of an island off the coast of Scotland does not seem to be the most likely place to be taking “an epsom salt bath”. 
  • Training plans are often focused on getting the best outcome on the day, and expectation that this is the ‘one big event’. Whilst that may be fine for someone aiming to do and run a good race, this isn’t really the style ‘Daft Running’ focuses on. We are more focused on experiencing the various races and locations – and beer. 
  • Training plans for 100k-ish races assume around 20wks of preparation. 

Ok, so the UTA is in 13-weeks. I am still ill recovering from the flu… Ok, let’s assume I can get 12weeks of good training in. 

I have narrowed down the ones I can stomach reading (I.e. the ones that don’t throw in lots of science-y sounding words in an attempt to appear smart), and focusing in on the training plan for the wall and one on the Marathon Handbook blog which actually both reads and seems sensible (the plan itself is an xlsx link within the blog post). 

Whilst I haven’t run much since my last marathon in September, I am confident that I could run around 20-30miles/week if I broke it down to 6mi (10k) segments 4-5x a week. The Wall training plan has this distance around week 8 of 20 and the Marathon Handbook (I’ll refer to this as simply MH from here in) seems to have it at around week 14 of 26. So, on these plans I think I may just scrape by.  

Both plans focus around including both cross-training (swimming, cycling) and core training (stability, yoga). One thing missing from the plans, but strangely enough highlighted as important in the MH blog, is strength training – it may come under the ‘gym work’ heading it the MH plan. In my opinion (stress on the word – opinion) a key thing is learning to run with tired legs. In the last third of any race your legs will be getting tired – if you are running it as a race – and in an endurance event having tired legs in the first third-to-half of the race is not unusual. Getting used to running on tired legs is pretty key so you don’t freak out when your legs are starting to moan yet there is still another 20miles to go. I think the MH plan undersells the importance of core and strength training – alternating between yoga and ‘gym work’ each week for an hour, the wall’s numbers for these sessions are more like it – but to be honest I’d rather say I’d be doing yoga-style stretching or core-strengthening every day (15mins-1hr). 

Now, I don’t plan on following either plan to the letter – but key things I am taking from this will be: 

  1. Assuming I can manage 20miles/week on my first week back comfortably I should be fine. If I’m really struggling then there will need to be some re-consideration on my part. 
  2. I will probably need to up my distance more rapidly than the guides stipulates three weeks in to ‘catch-up’; but this I’ll have to keep an eye on. 
  3. Get some actual yoga sessions in. 
  4. Get a flu shot.

Now getting past the first point above will be my main indicator for how I will proceed, but needless to say I’d be more comfortable with 15+ weeks that I thought I had when I agreed to do this event in the first place – which I thought then was a pretty daft thing to do over a period that included Christmas.

To re-iterate, this is what I think I will be aiming to do. I will likely not do this as I am lazy and daft – but will keep you up to date. I would also not recommend people take this as ‘advice’, I’d actually expect that a decent trainer would be saying something more along the lines of “cancel the races, work on postural alignment and functional movements” – but “YOLO” right? (do people say YOLO still?)

For more updates on this please listen into the podcast or visit back in a month or so!