Course profile

Course profile
What lies in wait on 2nd July - The 110k course profile

Thursday, 21 January 2016

A question of pace

As I start to run further and for longer, my thoughts are turning more to pacing. This is something of an Achilles heel for me. My running in the past, mainly when I was a lot younger, consisted of nothing longer than 10 miles tackled with the tactic of 'go as fast as I can'.

This always used to work fine and I used to do quite well in races, but it just won't do if you're expecting to run 68 miles. I had a bit of a taste of what getting your pacing wrong can do to you when I took part in the 2010 Langdale Half marathon, setting off way too fast and struggling desperately in the last few miles.

If I get it wrong for the Ultra marathon though, there won't be just a last few miles to struggle through, I could potentially ruin my chances of finishing at all - the dreaded 'DNF' (did not finish) and the thing I fear most. So how do you keep going for hours on end? I'm up to 3 hours now so while I still don't really know the answer to this, I'm getting a few inklings .....

It's ok to walk

Time for a walk ....
I've always viewed walking up hills as a sign of weakness, but it's actually suprisingly common in trail running, especially for longer distances. Some people adopt a tactic of regular walking (say 5 minutes every half hour), some walk all the uphills. The most important thing is not to feel like you've failed if you do so. A long race is as much in the head as anything so having an acceptance of this beforehand makes it easier to give yourself a break. I'm not sure of my tactic yet, but I've already done plenty of walking ...

Keep eating and drinking

Should see me through for 3 hours ....
I've seen it suggested that you can only go for 10 miles before you need to replenish your energy reserves by eating something. I'm not sure it's that exact, but it's certainly important to keep taking food and liquids in. Apparently this is something that lots of runners find difficult, but I'm pleased to report I've not had any problems yet. I think I had good training working on an upland footpath team where every lunch break was follow by strenuous physical activity .... I'm also starting to take quite a lot of food out with me already, if it carries on like this I'll need a cool bag!

Enjoy it!

Time for a break to admire the view!
Seems obvious doesn't it? But it's a bit of a revelation to me with my road running background, where it was all about covering certain distances quicker than last time. Enjoyment wasn't really part of it. Now when I head out, I often don't know exactly where I'm going and this sense of anticipation and exploration gives quite a boost. I'm also not afraid to stop if I see something interesting or want to admire the view. It all goes towards making running about more than getting from A to B as quick as possible. We've got cars for that.

I'll need to keep remembering these simple lessons over the coming months. It'll become even more important by the end of February when I'll need to start ramping up my time on my feet ....


  1. Easy on the Christmas cake its only Jan! What path/where is the picture 'time to walk'? Seem to remember it but can't place it

    1. The cake's all gone now. Boo. The path there is the Garburn pass from Kentmere side - I'd guess you'll be well used to walking up that with a bike for the descent on the other side?