All Set for TNF100 - A Great Ultra-marathon Build-up 

Posted by Nick Tuesday, May 03, 2011 9:19:00 PM

 With two weeks to go until TNF100 on 14 May, its taper time for me and everything is on track for a great race.  After a rough outing at the Cradle Mountain run in early February, the last three months have been heavily focused on get to the start of TNF100 in the best racing shape possible.  The first few weeks after Cradle Mountain were focused on recovery, with some worrying pain behind the ankle in both legs each time I ran on uneven surfaces soon subsiding.  By the first week of March (in which I skipped running the 6ft Track Marathon because of concerns over the sore ankles and general tiredness after a full race schedule) I was refreshed and ready to begin very serious training.

In terms of running mileage, a low distance month of 360km in February gave way to some serious distance of 495km in March and a personal record of 602km in April. The training plan I put together in Feb was great, and the only real rough spot in the training was the low distance week of 85km that I scheduled in mid-March that left me feeling really flat and slow.  Feeling worse in the scheduled light week was pretty weird - it could have been either the drop in calories that I deliberately  planned to avoid eating at the same level as a big distance week and hence getting heavier, or the legs deciding that the light week was a good time to undertake some long neglected break-down and rebuilding of the leg muscle tissue.

As with last years TNF100 build-up, the long training runs were real highlight of the peak training volume.  Each week I planed a different location for the long runs - both to alleviate the boredom that would come from a 4+ hour run each week over the same route, and to allow adaption to different terrains and course profiles.

As planned, each Friday was a long run from home to the Sydney CBD.  This is  a flat (about 300m gain and loss), fast run of about 30km, and by following a route along Botany Bay, along the Cooks River up to Tempe and then along the Princes Highway to George St, I get almost 20km of traffic-light free progress before hitting a bit of pedestrian traffic and street-crossing delays over the final 10km.  The run to work was a very relaxing way to finish the work week, and the consistent route made tracking progress easy.  After doing the first few runs at 5.15 min/km pace in the final hot, humid days of the Sydney summer, the coming of cool autumn mornings and fitness improvements saw the pace increase gradually to an average maximum of 4.45 min/km, which was a satisfying improvement.

After getting a bit of distance into the legs on a Friday, a weekend run of 40-60km focussed on building endurance.  Where possible, the run was on trails, with the highlights being:

  • 13 Mar - 42.2km. Otford to Marley to Audley to Yowie Bay. Hard and hot run over rough terrain with plenty of hills (1100m elevation gain and loss). I started the run in the heat of the day - around 2pm - and finished much later after the sun set. Felt hard but satisfying.
  • 27 Mar - 52km. Double RNP Coast Track. A wet and windy 7 hour run doing an out-and-back on the Coast Track from Bundeena to Otford and back. At times the rain drove down hard, and the track was wet and slippery in the southern section, but it was an immensely enjoyable run and felt great.  The photo below is the beautiful golden dawn that broke through the clouds as I was crossing Marley Beach on the first half of the Coast Track double.

 

  • 2 Apr - 42km. Great Old North Road. A hard run over the fire-trails and convict-built gravel roads between Wisemans Ferry and Bucketty.
  • 9 Apr - 58km. First four legs of TNF100 course (skipping the private property on Ironpot).
  • 16 Apr - 32km. A lighter week after TNF100 training camp, with heavy downpours forcing me onto the pavements for a quick lap around the Shire.
  • 22 Apr - 47km. The final big run, with a road course from Seal Rocks to Forster over the Easter weekend. Hot conditions made the run pretty hard, with the last 8km into Forster being a real struggle but good mental training for pushing through when not feeling 100%.

With the big runs in the book, I feel extremely comfortable and confident coming into this years TNF100.  The training has been close to perfect, with no sessions missed and great progress over the three months training.  In the final peak week, I set PB times on all my regular training runs, and have come in at my target weight of 74kg.  Being about 3kg lighter than my Cradle Mountain weight has made the running easier, and 73-74kg feels like a great weight to be racing at.

With this this build-up, a time around 14 hours is certainly a strong possibility.  The detailed race plan is pretty advanced, but I'll save that for the next post.

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