We’re about a week and a half out from the Saintélyon 44k and the core of the training block is done. It’s time to look back and see whether I came through on the goals I set in my last post where I mapped out the three core weeks of race preparation.
Generally I’m very happy with how the training has gone. Strava reports that I averaged 99km over the last four weeks, not counting the hours of hiking I also did during that period. This gives me a really consistent block of training which gives me some good confidence going into the race. Obviously it’s nowhere near a perfect training block of 12-16 weeks but that’s okay. I feel like it is enough to have rebounded fairly well after a slow summer and particularly the three 35km long runs felt more and more comfortable.
I managed to do a fair few runs at night, I did enough vertical to keep the legs comfortable in that sort of terrain whilst also working a lot on my leg speed in the flat. One of the key workouts I’m really almost proud of in that regard were the three Bastille Repeats at threshold intensity (2,2km with 260 D+).
The second key workout was last week’s 36km long run at night which incorporated a climb with 820 meters vertical and a 5km segment towards the end at uptempo/marathon pace. The rest of the workout was run at steady-state intensity. Most notably however, I started the workout at 11pm at night which is exactly the time when the race will start as well.
It was arguably the toughest workout I ever did and I learned incredibly much doing it. The workout was hard physically because the legs were already a little tired going into the day and because the 8km shakeout in the morning of the same day was probably not the best idea but more so than that it was mentally challenging. Normally I do not struggle maintaining steady-state pace – indeed it fun to pick up a little bit and have the kilometers just flying by. Seeing how late it was however it suddenly became incredibly hard to pick up the shovel and slowly dig into that pain-cave. Going up the climb was actually surprisingly enjoyable. It’s only you, your breath, your steps and the light cone of your headlamp when you’re out so late and that allows you to really focus on pacing yourself well up the climb. At the same time I must admit it felt a little scary running up that mountain in the middle of the night. Sounds in the bushes rattled me and I did run from a herd of boar half way up the thing which just kinda drains you. It was a good lesson descending in the dark and I was surprised at the pace I managed to sustain. I guess you have to just be a bit more gutsy than during day. In the flat however where the terrain suddenly wasn’t as interesting anymore it was a real struggle to keep pushing in the dark. It was the first time in my running career that I wished for music to keep me entertained and pushing. As tough as it was however, that is exactly why I did it. I will know what to expect going into the race and maybe I will even have some company out there. It prepared me for the race like no other workout could have. It was tough but I’m happy I did it. It also got me to fundamentally rethink my nutrition strategy but I think I’m too lazy to elaborate on that now. I’ll probably just have pasta with pesto for lunch and baguette with avocado and some salami for dinner.
In the end I was 2s per kilometer slower than on the same route the week before but back then it was also during the day and with fresher legs.
So was it perfect? No. Ideally I would’ve done more runs late at night, but I’m truly dreading them so I’m happy with every session I did. I should’ve done a session with downhill repeats to make my quads more descent-proof but I hope the overall amount of vert I did will suffice to keep me from the worst of pains.
Currently, the weather is looking great and the long-term projection estimates positive temperatures even late at night which will make the racing much more enjoyable.
I’ll finish this week reasonably strong doing somewhere between 90-100km and then use next week to taper off in line with Sage’s BQ plan. I’m super excited to race next week! Can’t wait to see where the fitness is really at right now and whether I can realize the goals:
3:30h Finish time.
More than happy to see the weather turning to comfortable temperatures as we’re getting closer to race week.