Couch to Ultra… WHAT!?

If you read my last post, then you’ll know that I was feeling a little bit out of sorts on my last run. I’d been feeling a bit low and had hoped that the run would have given me the lift that I needed, but it didn’t. So, I decided that maybe what I needed was to find myself a new challenge.

Now that I can run 10K, the next logical step would be to train for a half-marathon or maybe even a marathon. But as the Brighton Half has been and gone, entries have closed for the Brighton Marathon and I’m running 10K on marathon day anyway, I decided to opt for the next obvious alternative – a 100K ultra marathon from London to Brighton.


Ok, I know. It sounds crazy. I’ve not been running for all that long and the furthest I’ve ever run is 12K, but it’s not as crazy as it sounds.You see, the London 2 Brighton Challenge isn’t really a race; it’s more like an incredibly long sponsored walk that people can choose to run, or jog, or walk, or some kind of combination of the three.

Either way, it doesn’t matter now. I’ve paid my entrance fee, and since it’s only nine weeks away, I figured I’d better get on with some training.

The route itself will be divided into four stages, so I figured that rather than attempting to run a whole 100K, I should start training to run/walk each stage and then take it from there.

So, this morning I decided that I would try to up my distance by running 15K at a very slow pace, something in the region of 7:30 to 8:30 minutes per kilometre. This, however, wasn’t easy and the average pace for the first 5K was coming out at around 6:45, which is fine for 10K but I knew I wouldn’t be able to sustain it for 15K nevermind 100K.

In the end, I decided that I would try some walk/run intervals since that’s what I planned to do for the race anyway. I started my 6th kilometre by walking for 250 metres and then jogging for 750. This seemed to work quite well and I soon realised that I could probably keep this up for a bit more than 15K if I wanted to. So I kept going.

I felt relaxed and in control, and the walk breaks were helping me to recharge my energy. Round about kilometre 18, however, I noticed that the ache in my calf muscles was becoming more intense. Normally they don’t hurt until I stop running but, with the walk breaks, the pain had been there for a while.

Still, with only 2.5 kilometres to go until I was back at my starting point, it would have been a shame to stop. I was feeling pretty strong apart from the legs, so I took a couple of extra walk breaks and kept going until I reached 21K. Well, I was hardly going to stop at 20.5 was I?

21K Map 2014-03-23

Of course, had I realised that another 100 metres would have made it a Half Marathon, I might have kept going for that too. But I can’t complain. It was a lovely run and just what was needed to lift my spirits.

As for the London 2 Brighton Challenge? I guess, we’ll see what happens!

Happy running!

19 thoughts on “Couch to Ultra… WHAT!?”

  1. Well done! And, no, you can’t stop with 500 meters left!!! Good luck with what’s next. Glad the run helped lift you up. That’s one of the reasons we do it, after all. 🙂

  2. Holy smokes! That’s a significant jump in distance. Have you figured out how to get nutrition and hydration in during your workouts…I think you’ll feel better during and after. Good luck on the 100K, you’re a brave woman to take on that challenge!!!

    1. Thanks Sharon. Taking it slower definitely helped. I stuck with the water as I didn’t expect to go for so long, but have been swapping pasta for brown rice and eating much more meat over the last week, which I think has made a difference. I also filled up with protein and fruit when I got home – half a litre of chocolate milk and a couple of bananas, followed by a big greasy burger! 😀

    1. Thanks. 🙂
      I’m not planning on any heroics and will probably end up walking a lot of it. Sunday was a bit of a jump on paper, but in reality the lower intensity made it much easier. But yes, I will have to be careful to not get too carried away. 😉

  3. Love that! – the next logical step haha
    Totally something I would understand!
    I think you should go for it! End of the day, you can always walk whatever you can’t run, sounds like a winning idea to me! 🙂

  4. What a goal as you say it is achievable if you do the prep but make sure that you employee a walk/run strategy but also your going to need to look into energy gels/bars for that distance it is basically over a double marathon so it is going to be an extreme challenge. Even running it all at 7 min kph is about 12-13hrs on your feet so you need to pack for this creams, blister plasters, electrolyte tabs. If I can help at all please contact me.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement Ewen. There’s going to be a lot of things to try out and organise over the next few weeks as well as getting the training in, but it should be fun – blisters and all! 😉

  5. Nice one. C2100k huh? Great effort! Time on your feet in training is what you need for the race, not so much speed. Doing run-walk so you can be out for longer like you are doing is really good training for it. I think you’ll find jogging then walking will be better for you than trying to just run really slowly. For your calves you might want to try some calf guards. I use the 2XU ones, but there are others out there. They certainly help with my calves and staving off fatigue in them. Better recovery as well.
    All the best for your training, and hope this cold weather isn’t getting in the way of your plans!

    1. Hi Bernie. Thankfully the weather has been behaving itself recently so fingers crossed it continues. Although I don’t mind the wind and rain too much, I’m not looking forward to running in the mud! Thank you for the tip about the calf guards too. I’ll definitely look into getting some. Cheers! 🙂

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