Saturday, 26 February 2011

How long does it take to recover from a 100 miler?

The French Trail, which was missed today due to the weather.

How long is a piece of string? Well, all I know is that three weeks isn't enough for me to be back to 100%, although I did feel fairly good yesterday doing a marathon pace 5k within a longer run.

However, today I thought I'd see how my legs felt post RR100 by running the PCTR Redwood Park 50k. Not racing, but instead getting in a decent-paced long run with all the benefits of aid stations, organization and an incentive to get out of bed earlier than if I'd tried to do it all on my own.

So I lined up with everyone else in the 50k, 30k and 20k races (the 10k option starts off in a different direction but the three longer races followed the same loops as the 50k) in the cold and clear skies. There was a winter storm overnight, but the snow was restricted to higher altitudes than the 500-1,500ft elevations of the race, so we just had mud and a slight course alteration during the middle 10k loop.

But even a minute into the race I could feel my legs weren't fresh at all. So I decided to see how it felt and not go too fast, but just enjoy the scenery (which is great through Redwood Park). Seemed like a good idea until I got caught up running in a small pack and accidentally went through the end of the first 20k lap in 50k CR pace.

Over the middle 10k loop (before the repeated 20k loop to finish) I slid around in the mud, especially on the climbs, and found myself running completely on my own. I felt a lethargy in my legs which was obviously a hangover from the 100-miler and it wasn't dissipating. And even though I could run at a decent speed it didn't seem like a good idea to wreck my body with an ultra. 

So instead, at the end of that loop I decided to call it a day and just have a decent 30k run and allow my body to recover much more effectively. I think it did about 2:17 for that distance, which was a few minutes ahead of the 30k winner and the rest of the 50k runners, so wasn't exactly the easy jog I'd planned on anyway.

A DNF is never positive, but I'd not aimed to race anyway and the whole point was to get a training run in. Whether that's 30k or 50k, it had to be dictated by the good old 'listening to the body' tactic. A shame, but I learnt my lesson after racing too soon after Western States and hope I can have more intelligent recovery now and avoid the overtraining I ended up with last year...mind you, I need to run a reasonably fast marathon next week in Napa then Way Too Cool a week later at full effort. Will have to play that all by ear.

Today was a good day for a trail run and the full results will be posted here soon:


  1. Ian, that was a wise decision to pull out!

  2. Can you please remove the annoying ad at the top of your blog. why would you put that there? So unnecessary. Also, readers should not have to scroll down to see if there is a new post. The white text on black is blinding. I think your blog needs a redesign.

    Other than that, I enjoy reading your posts. Good luck with your upcoming races!

  3. Haha say what you feel Lincoln!! Hehee. I half expected to read that you continued to the very end of the 50k in CR pace, which would have been some 'training run' indeed. But your professionalism kicked in there something I doubt I would ever have the foresight or guts to do. It's so easy to carry on even when your body gives you all the signs that you shouldn't, and much harder to call it day which takes real disipcline. Good work Ian! Great to have such a super elite ultrarunner from a town just up the road from me. I live in Leighton Buzzard... Admittedly a little further afield now that you live on the West coast!!