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  • Writer's pictureSusie Chan

Winter Training

Cold dark nights and an excuse to eat more stodge.

After a summer of speedwork and shorter races, it was time to knuckle down and focus on the longer stuff once again to ready my legs for the Marathon des Sables. The dark and cold are not my training friend, I would much rather be sweating in the sunshine, and find it hard to motivate myself to get out the door.

On twitter (where else?) I was challenged to a December daily run challenge called Marcothon. The premise is simple, you run for 3 miles or 25 minutes for every single day in December. Thousands had signed up – and to motivate me to get out there, so did I.

Being a fan of rest days and cross training this challenge was initially harder than it appears. Making sure you get out every single day to run is logistically harder than it sounds when you work full time and try to cross train also. I also had a marathon (the fantastic Portsmouth Coastal marathon) to do.

My friend Jane and work colleague Meg had taken on the challenge too, it made it easier to meet them for the occasional run. I paced Jane in Portsmouth Coastal marathon and weighed myself down did a 5.5kg rucksack.

By the third week of the Marcothon Challenge it felt much more routine and after the very last run on the 31st December I woke up the next day wondering what to do.

After clocking up 223 miles running I rested.

January’s training encompassed the first two ultra marathons of the year, Country to Capital and Pilgrims Ultra.

Country to Capital was only ever going to be a training run. It’s billed as 45 miles but is in fact just over 42. The route starts in Wendover in the Chilterns and takes you south to the tow path of the Grand Union Canal ending in Paddington.

Not sure why the race organisers don’t amend the distance on information (3 miles can make a bit of a difference at the end of an Ultra) and the route on the canal after the Chilterns is not the prettiest. The lack of race signage for the first half of the race is also a bit poor, however the shortcomings of the race are balanced out by very lovely race staff and checkpoint volunteers, and the fact the course is relatively flat and fast. An awful lot of twitter chums were running this race, and I paired up for the race with Atacama Crossing second lady the wonderful Cat Simpson.

Having short-sightedly only checked the weather forecast for London and not Wendover, as we set of in a snow flurry I did wonder whether my decision to run in a skirt was the right one. As we ran towards the capital, the sun eventually came out and the day ended up being sunny and clear.

Cat and I both have races to save ourselves for so we jointly decided to take it easy. “it’s just a training run!” we told ourselves.

We dutifully took it easy for the first 30 miles. I felt very fresh at this point (the daily December run challenge had paid dividends) and we realised if we pushed we would get home in under 7 hours. We raced the last 20K and came over the finish line just in the top 10 women at 6hours 55minutes.

It was super to see so many familiar faces at this race, lots had picked this as their first ultra marathon.

My legs felt pretty fresh too, which is all very encouraging as next up is Pilgrims Ultra. Hills mud hills mud and hills for 66 miles. Can’t wait!

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