James kindly agreed to write a series of posts on his recovery from 24hr World Champs. If you missed the first you can catchup now. This time it's all about the rebuild as he looks ahead to his next big race. Thanks James.
It’s me again. You know, the recovering runner from Pyllon Racing who promised to write a few blogs about the process from recover, then rebuild, getting race ready and then, finally to race again after my early exit from the IAU World 24 Hour Championships. That race was at the start of July, and this 4-step process takes me to the 21st of October when I will toe the line at the Centurion Racing Autumn 100 (A100).
Notice the verb tense in the first sentence; present continuous. I was recovering the last time I wrote here but now I am recovered. I am rebuilding.
I entered that phase around late August. I’d been gradually regaining fitness and removing those niggles that had beset me after the Worlds. The big test was the fortnight leading up to the Tom Robb Memorial Race. The race itself would be the culmination of the fortnight’s work. A tough trail effort on tired legs to see how the hamstring especially was holding up. The race itself was only 7 miles, and on the morning before it I ran just under 11 miles to replicate a long run. It went well. The result was always secondary and whilst I was pleased to set a new benchmark on this very young event I was even more excited to get through with no ill-effects.
Now, everyone’s training is different. Because of that, I am not going to sit here and write “I ran this far, at this pace, with these efforts.” I find that dangerous and not very helpful. Plus, whilst I love numbers I am more of a feel guy.
I was starting to feel strong on the short, easy runs. I was able to hit the same benchmarks in intervals I was before some of my recent races and during the day I was feeling no worse for picking up the effort and intensity. In short, not only was my body coping well with the process of recovery, it was taking on-board the additional workload. I was rebuilding. That’s cool. In fact, I used the word “smiling” 73,671 times in the feedback on Training Peaks in the last two weeks of August and first 3 weeks of September alone.
But the body is one thing. Remember, I mentioned the mental recovery too. Well, that needs rebuilding as well. The zest’s back. I feel as fresh in the mind as in the body. One thing Paul has layered into the process has been more rest days than I would normally have, and reduced mileage. Of course, this sometimes means harder individual efforts but the trade-off has been more sleep. It’s well known I am a 5am runner. But, Paul has been coinciding my rest days with those that have less travel so I am able to get extra kip. I totally feel the benefit of this.
Key sessions have been to do some longer runs again with efforts. In one in particular I hit some really strong numbers but it was the manner of how I felt the next day which was exciting. I was ready to go again. When training for a 100 miler that’s a great sign.
An important area of focus remains the strength and mobility work. Don’t think for a minute I am backing off from that. In fact, I have stepped it up a wee bit to absolutely align to that old idiom about “prevention being better than the cure…” – if you take one thing away from this read today it’s just that. Don’t leave recovery to chance. Don’t leave avoiding injury to chance. Get ahead of it by looking after yourself.
The rebuild period has culminated in the River Ayr Way Race (RAW). This 40 mile point-to-point race from Glenbuck to Ayr signals the transition out of rebuild. I did this on Saturday (16/09) and was to be a test of my body and feeding strategy. If the Tom Robb was a small test, this was to be my Dissertation submission ahead of A100. It was, challenging.
Is this the right way?
The ultimate aim of this race was to glean some learning ahead of A100. I needed to do an effort on river trail, test my nutrition and gear choices and to get a solid training run in. In all of that I was extremely successful. Even when things were unsuccessful on the day. I will write a proper race report up in my own blog in the next few days but the short story is as follows: I went a bit too fast to begin with but importantly eased off. Was leading and got lost. Then was second and then first then got lost and was leading again, then dropped to second. Got lost. Then got lost a wee bit again and finished with a one mile loop of Ayr instead of the short river trail finish. I ended up 3rd. I was a bit sick and some of my nutrition choices are definitely to be revisited. I have a lot of data to play with which will help immensely at my next event. One of these is get a much better feel for the course before I step on it!
My mate Skoosh summed it up well, he said that firstly it’s better to have found out now about the things that didn’t agree with me and also to remind me that golfers use events leading up to the majors to prepare and practice. Let’s hope that this is indeed a fruitful experience.
To reiterate, the most important thing to come out of this race was the completion of the rebuild phase. I have no niggles, no issues and no physical concerns to work with. The next few weeks will be all about getting race ready. I head off to Portugal with the family the week before the race, which is wonderful timing. It means I can really focus hard on my training until then knowing a natural break and period of relaxation with the sun on my back is waiting for me.
For now, though, it’s time to get cracking. Peak weeks ahoy!