From Burger King to Ultra King...

A perspective on training for 'A Coventry Way (ACW)', a 40-mile Ultra with #RunWithIan in 2021... by Ian Beasley, March 2021

It’s fair to say that I’ve always been more of a follower than a leader. And definitely a bandwagon jump-er-on-er. Nothing wrong with that huh? So, when a duo of these aforementioned bandwagons arrived neatly at my feet late last year, I gleefully latched on to each one with outstretched arms.

Since my intrepid steps as a rather portly Couch-to-5K graduate just over four years ago, I’ve relished every aspect of my running journey, from seeing Parkrun times improve, to demolishing a 10K and going on to complete my inaugural half marathon in Amsterdam. Ooh, get me, an international athlete. I was even tricked into running a marathon last summer - I’d only nipped out for a pint of milk - but that’s another story.

When it comes to my running performance, I’m definitely in the middle-of-the-road category. Nevertheless, this relative mediocrity does not prevent my deeply engrained competitive spirit from rising to the surface when it comes to achieving my personal goals - I can be one ruthless mofo in the finishing straight of a Parkrun if a PB is at stake.

I’m not ashamed to admit that, along with many others, The Covids has more than knocked the stuffing out of me and after a pretty dark period late last year, I realised that setting some goals could help to provide a positive focus and reinstate at least a semblance of control in life - which brings us neatly to Bandwagon One

Yes, the delectable world of the ultramarathon. I mean, is there a finer ambition than to perpetually throw one’s carcass around the great British landscape for the sheer hell of it? I think not.

As a hapless fool, who’s been known to get lost in a supermarket, it was clear that I’d need a little assistance when trying to navigate my way along a 40-mile voyage in open countryside without my mummy. Cue the arrival of Ian Baynes, an accomplished ultramarathon runner and coach, who happens to live within a stone’s throw of my stomping ground. Serendipity at its best.

After a detailed fact-finding mission by Coach Baynes, I was soon the proud owner of a comprehensive plan designed to guide me through a magnificent 20-week programme, while ensuring that my most treasured body parts didn’t part company in the process.

Although the key components of the plan centred around running, there was a firm emphasis on quality not quantity. Indeed, with a rather blemished injury track record, Ian took special care to ensure that rest, low impact activities and strength work were embedded among the weekly toils to provide a firm foundation for success on the day itself.

In addition to the prescribed training sessions, Ian also reviewed my existing kit and made suggestions for upgrades where required, for instance, recommending specific trail shoes that would be able to tackle the tricky terrain through the inclement winter training period.

With the sessions and kit all in place, there was one final but critical area to consider before I was unleashed to gallop in the glorious mud. Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. To be frank, up until this point I hadn’t really considered the impact, relevance even, of what I was chucking down my throat in relation to running performance. And my approach to hydration was haphazard at best. Fear not, Monsie