When one door closes…


…another opens.

About two weeks ago I woke to find a surprise had landed in my inbox.

The race directors of the 30/50 Challenge have been forced to change the event date due to the fact that if we run it in November we might tread on a Hooded Plover mating in the bushes.

30-50 challenge change date

Whether we like it or not the 30/50 Challenge has been moved to May 2015, and I’ve been forced to change my training strategy for the year.

Fair enough really, trail running wouldn’t exist without an environment to run it in.

I haven’t put aside my goal of completing an Ultra in 2014 though, not by a long shot. I’ve just had to rearrange things a little. And as it turns out these changes may even be for the better.

I had a half-formed plan of running a few races here and there – Run for the Kids, Puffing Billy, perhaps the Salomon trail series, then the Melbourne Marathon as a primer THEN the 30/50 Challenge. It was a lengthy timeline of events, and perhaps played it unnecessarily safe for what is after all ‘only’ a 50km race.

After I’d received this update I was a bit stumped, wondering how exactly I was going to go about this goal of mine now.

See, as part of my belief that I can do this thing, this Ultra Thing, I really feel the need to complete a marathon in the lead up to whichever ultra race I end up deciding to go in. Whether that’s true or not, more practice can’t hurt, right? So I was casting about, looking for another way to line my race ducks up in a suitable row. Nothing looked right.

But! Then fate intervened. About two days after the 30/50 announcement a brand new Trail Marathon appeared on the race calendar.

Say a big hello to: The Surf Coast Trail Marathon!


You’re saying you have beautiful trails, coastal views the entire way AND a brilliant excuse to holiday in Torquay for the weekend?

Where do I sign up?

Luckily I found out about it with JUST enough time left to properly train for it, and I am very excited about the idea of running my first non-road marathon.

If you’d asked me in March whether I was ready to jump into marathon training already I would have said no way, but the past 6 weeks have been some of the most enjoyable running I’ve had for over a year.

Two things have contributed to this:

  • While I haven’t been doing ANY cross training lately, I have finally managed to work strength training into my routine on a very regular basis, and that is making a lot of difference. Because of this, and some diligent after workout stretching, I think I can safely say my piriformis issue is under control.
  • Because of the lack of injury I’ve been remarkably consistent in my training this year. I’m regularly running 40+ km weeks, I have NO niggles on any part of my body and I am becoming much more disciplined about getting up when the alarm goes off.

All of which is the perfect base to begin training for a marathon that is now only (gulp) 7 weeks away.

While I wouldn’t recommend a short training period like this to a new runner, or someone who wants to complete a speedy marathon with a PB, I think in the case of trail races you have a much bigger safety net to protect you from injury caused by going in (let’s face it) not completely prepared. There’s almost certainly going to be walking involved, for one thing. For another I’ll be on trails, nice and easy on the old legs. Finally, trail distances are incomparable to road runs so I won’t really be trying for a particular time. If I come in anywhere near my slowest marathon finish of 5:30 for this I will be extremely happy!

So, aside from running, a lot, and running on trails, a lot, I have been doing my strength workouts with all the diligence of a newly converted cult member.

Basically, after every run I do this:

  • Plank – 2 mins
  • Side plank 30 sec ea x 2
  • Superman – 2 mins
  • Crunches – 50
  • Bicycle situps – 40
  • Single leg squat – 50 ea
  • ½ pushups – 50

In addition to round of piriformis stretching and a bit of foam rolling.

piriformis 1

I stretch my piriformis this way…source

piriformis 2

…but this way works well too – Source

I have found it much easier to do a quick foam roll after almost every run than go through the tediousness of a 15 minute session once or twice a week (which I don’t find to be as effective anyway).

Now I don’t do all this every day, although I do the squats, pushups and crunches most days, but if I notice I’ve gone a few days without planks, or if I’m getting stingy with the Superman’s, then I redouble my efforts to do a proper set after my next run.

beautiful servant

Insert random motivational poster here – going to need some of that good stuff I think…

More important than my renewed resilience, however, is the heightened sense of joy I’ve been feeling when running. For so long when I was injured or barely well my running was…uninspiring; a lot of hard work, and always slightly disappointing. Like a favourite meal cooked with crappy ingredients, or a knock off version of your favourite chocolate.

Sure, about once a week I would have a reasonably good run that didn’t hurt too much, wasn’t too difficult and I didn’t have to walk much of, but it’s nothing compared to the runs I’ve been having lately.

You know the runs I’m talking about.

Runs that leave you grinning at passersby like a loon, singing to yourself as you bomb downhill, or talking a mile a minute when you get back home (to family who are stumbling around the house trying to get ready for school and work and not at all interested in your excitement at this time of the morning).

Those runs.

So no, I still haven’t figured out which Ultra I’m going to do. What I do know is I am going to be 100% ready for it.

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