18 days to the start of the 2016 Grand to Grand Ultra …
I’m into my final few days of training and preparing for the Grand to Grand Ultra.
Different to running a marathon or single-stage ultramarathon, a multi-stage 250km plus desert race presents a runner with a few extra challenges – running long distances on consecutive days, carrying a backpack which weights 8-10 at the start of the race, etc.
Training for a race of this nature is therefore not a simple proposition. It requires dedication and commitment over an extended period of time, while running with a heavy backpack adds a challenging dimension to this process.
Based on the experience gained from completing many of these races since 2010, I have developed a simple training plan that works for me – running on consecutive days, usually blocks of 4-5 days, gradually increasing my daily and weekly distances over a five-month period, running at least four long runs of more than 40km, and only doing 10-15 quality runs with my backpack. The latter comment might be surprising to some. However, having struggled with my knees in recent years, I’m trying to reduce the impact of running with a backpack, while at the same time doing more leg strengthening exercises.
My final long run, usually 70-80km approximately one month before the start of a race, is always a good test of my fitness and overall conditioning. A slow long run has many benefits. It helps to adapt your joints and muscles to give them the endurance for ultramarathons and multi-stage races, it improves your cardiovascular system, it enhances your body’s ability to burn fat as a source of energy, and it teaches your body to store more energy as glycogen.
In recent years I have planned my final slow long run to coincide with the annual Dawn to Dusk race held in Pretoria. This 12-hour circuit race starts at 06h00, and runners have from “dawn to dusk” to complete a minimum of 80 laps of the 1km circuit. Some may think this is a boring way to run 80km, but over and above the distance to be covered, a circuit race is also an interesting mental challenge in preparation for a multi-stage desert race.
The 15th edition of the Dawn to Dusk race was held on 27 August 2016, and I completed my 80km in just under 11 hours. Although slower than expected, time on my feet at this stage is more important than the speed of completing the race.
With my long runs and intensive training for the Grand to Grand Ultra completed, I will be using the next 10 days for a final few 10-15km runs, gear and equipment checks, and my awareness and fundraising efforts in support of the END Fund.
The countdown to the Grand to Grand Ultra continues…
I invite you to support my fundraising campaign and encourage others to do the same.
Together, we can END NTDs!