50K countdown - 108 days to go…

28 January 2015

​This is the year!

The year that I finally take on and race an ultra. I’ve completed 3 races beyond marathon distance before, but I’ve got my mind set on properly racing this one rather than just trying to get to the finish line in one piece (although I’ll hopefully do that too). The other races I’ve done, though, were relatively flat in comparison with the 6000 feet of climb that the Keswick 50K circuit has in store for me on May 17th so I’m not taking any chances with my preparation this year. My plan of attack is this:

*Get my fitness up through intensive training on the roads for the first 2 months of the year.

*Move onto trails and hills throughout March and April, building up the time on my feet until I’m comfortable up to 25 miles or 5 hours.

*Get at least one full recce of the route in before race day.

The best laid plans don’t always work out, unfortunately, and in the middle of December I had a cat-related trip in the home that left me with a fractured big toe and 3 weeks with no running at all. After a couple of false starts since, I have managed to put 2 weeks of solid training and I’m just about back to where I was before Christmas. Before that all happened, I had my lactate threshold tested and a training plan (my first) drawn up. I have always been a keen and fairly dedicated runner but it has mainly revolved about running as far as I want at whatever pace I fancy. This has worked for me so far but I thought that with Keswick on the horizon it would be worth seeing whether a change in my training habits might make a difference. I’m certainly working harder - compare these 2 weeks…

Week beginning 20th January 2014

Tuesday: 9 miles @ 7:59 mins/mile

Thursday: 4 miles @ 8:34 mins/mile

Friday: 3.7 miles @ 7:53 mins/mile

Sunday: 18.2 miles @ 8:17 mins/mile

Week beginning 19th January 2015

Monday: 5.3 miles @ 7:40 mins/mile

Tuesday: 4.6 miles @ 7:06 mins/mile

Thursday: 8.6 miles @ 7:01 mins/mile

Saturday: 6.4 miles @ 7:05 mins/mile

Sunday: 11.5 miles @ 7:03 mins/mile

At the moment I’m a bit lacking in stamina after my layoff but my threshold runs (keeping my heart rate between 158 and 167, usually around 160) feel great up to 60 minutes! For the next 2 weeks I’ll be keeping my runs the same length of time but the distance covered should steadily increase, before my first significant marker of the year: The Stamford Valentine’s 30K road race. On the back of my more relaxed training of last winter I ran this a shade over 2 hours 18 minutes and if I get under that time this year I’ll know that training is going well!

Winter training

I love training in the winter! Getting out in crisp, frosty weather in the mornings you see the best sunrises of the year and with the Lincolnshire coast not too far from where I live it is a great time to be a runner. I’m not a huge one for carrying loads of kit, but there are a few things I can’t do without at this time of year when I head out:

*Lightweight hat and gloves (I don’t usually keep them on long so the lighter the better - they’re usually in my pocket after 10 minutes).

*Running tights (despite the stick I receive from my running friends when they are still toughing it out in their shorts).

*A decent head torch with a USB charger so I’m not constantly buying new batteries. I’ve learnt through bitter experience that you really do get what you pay for, as far as head torches are concerned!

*My phone - just in case. It’s no fun being stuck 5 miles from home at temperatures below zero if you’ve gone over on your ankle - again found out through bitter experience!

Happy training!

Saturday morning's sunrise


Neil Mitchell

Neil Mitchell

I’m a full time primary teacher, husband and dad with a 35-40 miles per week running habit! I’ve been getting into longer events over the last year or so, and enjoy long miles, both off road and on, to relax. Not much beats spending a steady couple of hours out with good friends and surrounded by fantastic scenery, or having a blast right on your very limit.

I’ve completed a 50K and a 35 miler before, but the 50K at the Keswick Mountain Festival in 2015 will be a step up and I can’t wait!

  • Location: Lincolnshire
  • Event entered: Ultra Trail Marathon
  • Favourite outdoor activity: Running!
  • Favourite cake: Profiteroles, or cheesecake if they don’t count!

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