Celebrating 60 in style! by Sue Marshall

A perspective on Training for an ultra with #RunWithIan through the winter of 2020/21.

With less than a week to go before I aim to complete the 40-mile plus 'A Coventry Way' and the last of the long training runs done, I thought it was time to look back over my training, to see what I had learned and why I wanted to do it in the first place.

The lack of races during lockdown sometimes meant it was hard to keep motivated, without the goal of a race to aim for. Virtual races had kept me going for a while, but I did feel that I needed a new challenge, especially as the marathons were not going to happen for a while. I also wanted to spend my ‘big birthday’ in a special way, so running 40 miles or over 60 kilometres completing A Coventry Way seemed to fit the bill.

The annual event was not going to happen, but when I heard that Ian was organising group runs and a training package, I began to get quite excited. Here was the challenge I needed, especially as I could do it on my actual birthday, so I signed up and so did my daughter, Joanne.

Training began in January, following a consultation with Ian who drew up a bespoke training plan. Previously I had followed plans for marathons, but I had always just picked one off the internet that I thought met my aims. This one took into account my age, running experience, diet, etc.

The plan included long slow runs, hills and intervals, but also walking, strength training and skipping; I hadn’t skipped since I was a child! Although each skipping session was only 2 minutes, it was surprisingly difficult at first. I seemed to lack the co-ordination and rhythm and was quite out of breath at the end. Gradually, it started to get easier, which was good because the sessions then increased to 3 minutes.

The plan also included advice about diet and hydration. Although I was aware of good nutrition practice during training, I realised this was particularly important with the increased intensity of training. Previously I have tried to incorporate healthy elements into my diet, but haven’t really thought too much about the macro splits of carbs, fat and protein. I’ve just tended to up my carbs before very long runs and marathons. I am now more aware of the importance of protein for muscle health and repair, especially as I’m not in my first flush of youth. I really wanted to avoid getting injured and give myself the best chance of success. I’m also drinking far more water than I ever did before, although this does mean more frequent trips to the loo, (that could be age too).

I had been running a lot during lockdown, so the first few weeks was actually a slight decrease in weekly mileage. That didn’t last long. The mileage gradually increased from one long run at the weekend, to another one mid-week, then a shorter run the day after the long run, then that shorter run became a long run too.

What was very different from training for half marathons and marathons was running in heart zone 2.This was a new experience as I had taken never taken account of my heart rate when trai