Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ultra Tour du Léman training and race strategy: then... and now

So the plan for the UTL this year was to capitalize on my GUCR finish and see whether aiming for a Spartathlon qualifying time might not be such a utopic goal. Since you now need to complete a 100-miler in 21h, I figured that if I could go sub-24h or near that at the 110-mile UTL, I might be able to start dreaming...
After taking roughly 2.5 weeks of active recovery, but no running (aside from the Transjura Trail hike), I eased back into things then on holiday cut back on the number and length of sessions to focus on family and speedwork - and then the plan was to ramp up mileage and more or less copy my GUCR training with a slightly higher target race pace (6'30" per rather than 7'), which, if i can maintain some consistency, should bring me close to my goal, accounting for a fade to less than 6 km/h at the end...
Except that I started to feel the sole of my foot. Pretty sure it was plantar fasciitis, too bloody symptomatic. I guess those sore feet after 145 miles were still angry with me, but I still found it strange that I hadn't felt anything during the recovery weeks (or at the Transju'Trail).
Anyway, I don't know whether that contributed to having a hard time getting back into a heavy, structured training schedule, but it was a real struggle. Still, I manage to do a surprising big week time-wise (9h) ten days ago, mainly thanks to an impromptu 2h power hike in the mountains with my kids. But the following week was lower than anticipated, and now, I had to cut 2h off my long run this morning since I felt the plantar for the first time during a run and have to acknowledge that things are getting worse, not better (ending up with less than 70km and just over 7h this week), despite foam rolling & massaging & stretching calves and soles...
I know I have to review my training if I hope to finish. So, since I read that speedwork is the worst, I'm cutting down the mileage by removing those sessions (two birds with one stone, and all that) and replacing then with high intensity workouts on an indoor-bike that I can access at a gym through work (additional mental training, arg gyms!). I'll keep the tempo training and the long run, and a 3rd shorter race pace run. Since I do my short interval training on Tuesdays and the long run Sunday morning, that should also give me three days' rest without running.
I'm hoping that this will keep me fit enough to still aim for a 24-25h finish, since we are only 5 weeks off now, so in any case it's taper time in 2-3 weeks, and I only have to bank two 4h long runs anyway. But given that this is 110 miles, there's a fair chance the plantar will flare up enough at some point to make even walking painful. And if I end up finishing in 27h or more without my plantar flaring up, that means that my training between the GUCR and UTL was in any case inadequate - or that i am getting a little too old and slow to harbour any more Sparta dreams...
So, I do need to prepare mentally for "just a finish", fading sooner and more rapidly than at the GUCR, and walking it in early - potentially in a lot of pain. Which means turning to Ulrich Marshall for inspiration, as he got plantar fasciitis on Day 12 of his 52-day run across America, because I'm hell-bent on finishing this year - plantar fasciitis be damned!

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