One of the best things you can do in training for any race is to prepare yourself for what conditions will be like on race day. This is even more true of both trail and longer events where small problems can become big ones over the course of the run.
Knowing the condition of the track, the elevation profile, how your stomach handles gels AND hills, whether rain or heat will affect you (or the trail) are really helpful.
Those boy scouts were right!
I’ve been determined to do a lot more training on trails this time round (those fancy professionals call it ‘specificity of training’) and therefore that’s given me a wonderful excuse to plan a few weekends away.
My long runs over recent weeks have consisted of the following:
Wattle Park: There are many pros for this trail – it’s suitable to run in any weather and, despite being in a fairly busy area, never crowded. I can run to it from home, it has a nice 1.5k loop, with one big hill that’s enough to give you a workout but also leaves plenty of time to recover as you complete the loop. The track is packed, flat gravel and is well maintained. I think the only con is that the loop isn’t long enough. Once I go past the 15k mark I start to feel like a mouse on a treadmill!
Lyrebird Track (left)
Mt Dandenong: THE place to train hills in Melbourne. I don’t usually go up the 1000 steps, instead choosing the Lyrebird track to the left of that, but either way you get lots of big ups and downs, very little flat, nicely packed gravel, with the convenience of both water and toilets at the top of One Tree Hill. In fact, out of all these trails it is the one that gives me the biggest ascent result for even shorter runs, which is great when I’m trying to train my quads and calves to suffer!
Cons – it’s a looooong way for me to drive to, and there are some slippery areas when leaves have fallen or there has been a lot of rain.
These are my new trail shoes, Salomon Fellraisers. Aren’t they beautiful? They were my mother’s day present to myself!
Two Bays track
Two Bays, Rosebud/Cape Schanck: I love Two Bays, it has a little bit of everything and the track goes for a looong way, 28k in total. Medium length ups and down as well as lots of smaller undulation, some reasonably flat areas, wide grassy fire trails as well as technical (but not too technical) single track, stairs, sandy soil and boardwalks. Cons? None really, although those undulations can sneak up on you and tucker you out so pace yourself!!
Surf Coast Walk: This was where I ran last weekend and let me tell you, I had totally forgotten what the constant undulation does to my legs! SCW has very little flat, and because I don’t know it well it was hard to pace myself. I’d force myself up some massive cliff face, thinking for sure there’d be a downhill I could coast on soon, only to hit more uphill, or a difficult sandy section. By the last third of the run I had to completely dial it back and walk all the uphills no matter how I was feeling. With its sandy and rocky areas, the stairs and beach (more sand running!) it would be an exhausting trail to run on if it weren’t for the beautiful views which make it all worthwhile!
The view from Torquay RACV country club (yes, I’m a lucky girl!)
The view back to Bells from Ironbark Basin
Cinnamon fungus boot wash near the Jarosite mine
One final deceptively steep uphill before Torquay beach and home.
So how’s my training going? Great actually!
I was completely unprepared for how difficult Two Bays and the Surf Coast trail were going to feel, simply because my runs at Mt D and Wattle Park had felt so good. I am not too worried though, a couple of 50k+ weeks have definitely tired my legs out, so I’m sure after this week (a fallback week) I will return to the trails with new strength. Well, that’s the plan anyway!
But there are other reasons I am feeling so good this time round, and top of that list is – no niggles!
I’ve had very little to slow me down this time. Due to my diligent strength training (so far – it’s a constant battle!) my piriformis and IT bands have been behaving very nicely. Oh they complain every now and then, but they don’t put a stop to proceedings like they have in the past.
I’m putting together more and more consistent weeks of higher mileage, which means I will have a great base to work off going in to the race and, I have also been feeling much more energetic overall. It is so nice to be able to train hard to reach my goals without having to completely opt out of my social life to achieve this.
Usually by this point I am finding laying on the couch to be too much effort!
I’ve done a lot differently this time round in terms of health and diet too, which I am convinced has made a big difference. But that’s for my next post!