With my first ultra marathon of the year due in 10 days I wanted to get an idea what shape my body was in. Having increased my long run to 2 hours 10 days ago it was time to add a bit more to that on Saturday. But not only was I going to go for a long run on Saturday. My plan was to run long on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I was going to play it by ear to see if I would go out for my run on the Sunday or Monday but was hoping that I could get this in. It would put me in a very good mental frame of mind ahead of the 36.5 mile Speyside Way Ultra.

Carketton - Pentland Hills

Saturday’s run took me from my home in Gorgie up the Water of Leith Path to Balerno and then along the lower ranges of the Pentland hills towards Bonaly and across to Swanston. From there I would drop back into Edinburgh to get home. The section from Balerno to Swanston turned out to be more of a trail run than originally planned and my choice of footwear (race flats) was not particularly suitable. We had a lot of rain last week which made some of the trail sections very muddy and in parts the route took me across wet, grassy fields leading to more sliding than running. Nonetheless I completed a total of 31km in 2:50 hours. The run also included 550m of ascent. My legs felt good throughout, pace wasn’t high, but distance was notably longer than anything I have done recently bar the Ironman. I wore my compression socks and fuelled on 600ml of water with 1 nuun tablet and a packet of Honey Stinger energy chews. The run was enjoyable, especially as it had a bit of an adventure element in it as I was doing bits of the route I had never done before. There was a bit of stiffness in the legs in the evening but nothing of real note. The same the next morning so I was happy to head out for another long run all be it not as long.

This time for a flat run along the canal path out to Ratho and back. As with the previous day I applied a run/walk strategy today on a 19/1 ratio. Early on my legs felt a bit stiff and still needed some warming up but as the run progressed the speed was picking up which was a nice surprise. My fastest 2 sectors were the last 2 on the way back home. Again I had 600ml of drink with me with 1 nuun tablet and a packet of energy chews. I was also wearing my calf guards to help with recovery. Total distance for this run was 24km in a time of 2:05 hrs. Although the speed picked up towards the end, the legs did feel a bit more achy too. That said once the run was over there was just a little bit of stiffness left, same as the previous day. What might have helped here too is the cold bath I had straight after the run.

Next morning, and again the legs have a little stiffness but nothing to shout about. Unusual for me but I had nothing on in the evening so would meet up with a club mate at Hillend Car Park at the foot of the Pentland hills for a run in the Pentlands. I chose to run to the car park (8km) and then Mike and I did a loop which took us along the top of the golf courses and round the back of Allermuir before heading to the peak. Fast descent back down where our ways parted and I ran back home. Another 22km in the bag, this time with 650m of ascent some of which were very steep. Run time 2:17hrs. My legs actually felt better from the off this time than on Sunday and I was amazed how strong I was going up the hills. My biggest problem on the day were some blisters that were developing on my heels and my big toes, but I couldn’t do much about them whilst at the top of a hill so kept going until I got home. They felt worse than they turned out to be. Might still have to tape them up before my next run though. The last few km on the way back home felt a bit tougher as my quads were aching, which I think is from the descending off the hills – something I am not really used to. I had also forgotten to put my compression tights on which I had planned to do. Nutrition again was the same as on the previous 2 days. Different to the previous days was that I didn’t use a run/walk strategy this time which might have made a difference too. But overall another good run.

So 3 runs in 3 days and a total of 77km. The following morning the legs felt similar to the other mornings and I thought, I could go for a run again but I had planned a rest day and decided to stick with that plan. This morning – so 36 hours later the legs seemed a bit achier. I have come across reports that DOMS can take up to 24-36 hours to really kick in so this makes me wonder if you run at least a bit every day you could virtually avoid DOMS as the DOMS that would have been expected from Saturday or Sunday never materialized. Something I will work on a bit more to see how much truth might lie in this.

The 3 days of running have given me a great boost ahead of the Speyside Way Ultra. It has also made me think that events like the Jurassic Coast Challenge or the Pembrokeshire Coast Challenge are more easily doable than I had previously thought. Both of these events go over 3 days and you cover roughly a marathon on each day. If run at a reasonably steady pace then the legs should be in a reasonable state for another marathon the next day.