Confidence is currency!
I'd hoped to complete the Lakeland 50 in 2012 when I turned 50 but didn't get my act together in time. Instead I joined the rest of the Spartan crew manning the infamously isolated Checkpoint 10 at Mardale Head. Unlike all the other CPs on the UTLD, Mardale is simply a tent in a car park at the end of a dead end road. Runners reach it after arguably the toughest section, the 9 and a bit mile grind from Howtown up Fusedale, over High Cop and along the single track on the western shore of Haweswater. The CP is at 20 miles for the L50 competitors or 75 for those doing the 100. As a 'reward' for helping out at the CP, we were given a free place in the 2013 event - no excuses now then!
In hindsight spending that weekend last year at Mardale was the starting gun for preparing for the 2013 L50. As well as understanding how CPs worked for both runners and marshals on an event like this, I had an insight into how I might be feeling, what I'd be needing, to help to plan for race day itself. Entries for 2013 opened in September and I was in.
Using Andy Mouncey's 'confidence is currency' mantra, I planned what I needed to do. First, have a clear goal. That was easy, to define at least - to finish. And the journey itself was a goal, not just the destination. Next, chunk your goals - I'd treat the event as 7 races between each CP. Then there was route knowledge. I didn't want to be forever checking the map and road book or, worse, getting lost! So recces were going to be important. You can only learn so much from a map or YouTube videos, nothing beats getting out there and experiencing it on the ground. I recce'd the entire route by the time the event came around, 5 runs (Ambleside-Coniston, Little Langdale-Coniston, Pooley Bridge-Mardale, Kentmere-Coniston, and Pooley Bridge-Ambleside) plus one walk from Kentmere up Harter Fell that took in the section from the top of Gatesgarth Pass to Kentmere. These recces were done in all weathers - snow, rain, sun.
Clearly these recces were also part of building up the distances I was running. At new year 2013, I put together a training programme to help guide my preparation. I wasn't going to follow it rigidly but it helped put some structure in place. It was based on building up to a marathon in late March, Sandstone Trail Challenge in May and the big event in July. It used periodisation, having heavy intense weeks then easing back to allow recovery and adaptation before building up again, in roughly 3 week cycles. Average weekly distance was about a marathon, with 5 weeks over 60km (37.5 miles), 8 weeks over 50km (31 miles) and 18 weeks over 40km (25); biggest week was 81km (51 miles); longest run was the Sandstone.But it wasn’t just about endurance – it’s also the ‘engine’ as Marc calls it, mixing quality in with quantity, keeping the intervals and tempo runs. I'd also tried and tested my kit, particularly new things like running poles and Hokas.
So if confidence is currency I went into the L50 a rich man! Clear goals - tick; route knowledge - tick; ready for whatever weather Cumbria can throw at you in July – tick; training- tick; kit - tick; nutrition and fluids and using CPs - tick. And of course not forgetting the energy and support from Andree and from the rest of the Spartans. I went into the L50 a rich man but came out even richer.