Sometimes you have to slow down

It's been almost three weeks since my last post which is a little slack considering I was regularly posting each week but to be honest life has been pretty busy both at work and at home although this hasn't adversely impacted some quality running sessions from being completed.

As the seasons transition from spring to summer I definitely feel an extra bounce in my legs and a lot of my short sessions can be done wearing just shorts and shoes. However it's important to note that proper hydration, adequate protection from the sun and prevention of chafing are all key elements in this weather and a recent experience I had on Sunday definitely made me think more about how to approach this with my upcoming race in three weeks time and more importantly the Lakeland 50.

Over the last three weeks I have been running a couple of sessions a week with a light pack in preparation for my ultra at the end of July to accommodate the extra weight. These sessions have been going well and each week I have gradually increased this however I wasn't prepared for the impact mini heatwave we had here in the UK last weekend. With the temperatures due to rise to around 25C on Sunday it was definitely a day to pack plenty of fluid (3 litres in fact) for a long run of around 22-23 miles. I woke up around 5.30am, had a quick cup of black coffee and a glass of water before heading out the door around 5:50am. After warming up I noticed that there wasn't a cloud in the sky and although the ground was quite wet I knew we were in for a scorcher of a day.

I set off at a steady 9 1/2 minute mile pace and for the first time in a while I put on my IPOD as I hadn't listened to it for a while on a run. It was evident within a few seconds that I hadn't listened to it for some time as the voice over software said "Low battery" over some great Johnny Cash tunes that I had downloaded last time I used it. I plodded on for about an hour or so before the IPOD died on me, I looked down at my watch and it said I had covered around 6.5 miles. I felt relaxed and comfortable and was already preparing myself mentally for gently pushing the pace to hit a negative split for the last half of the run as I try to on all long runs before hitting my jog/walk phase

Around two hours into the run and 13 miles done the air temperature definitely felt a lot warmer than it had earlier this morning and combined with the extra weight in my pack (around 12lb) I was feeling a little fatigued compared to previous weeks. The next few miles I felt increasingly fatigued and by the 16 mile mark I was suffering quite a bit which hadn't been the case on every other 20+ miler this year (about 9-10 runs). Of course I had picked up the pace (around 8:40 min/mile) since mile 9 however my Camelbak hydration pack was emptied (2.5 litres in total) and this brought home to me how warm it really was as I hadn't realised how much fluid I had been drinking. Although I was a little surprised how much I had drunk I wasn't shocked given the weather and fortunately I had another 500ml of fuel on board just in case I did run dry.

I reached mile 18 with a 4 minute negative split over the last half compared to the first half of the run and felt a little relieved to be taking the next hour at a jog/walk pace. I had clocked 2:45 for that first 18 miles and during that last 60 minutes I would look to cover around 5 miles given me a grand total of 23 miles for the day. The reduced pace really did help and I felt relaxed and comfortable once again. The time seemed to go rather quickly and when I arrived back home after 3hrs and 45 minutes I felt really good again. I finished my workout off with around 400 partial squats and proceeded to drink two litres of ice cold Cherry Coke! That really helped and is my favourite post long run drink!

As I rested up I started to think about how the runners at the Edinburgh marathon were fairing in this heat and for one family unfortunately that day will live long in the memory for the wrong reasons. It was really sad to hear that Douglas MacFarlane collapsed during the first leg of the team relay race and passed away quite quickly afterwards.

It really showed how me the fragile life is and that you can be here one minute and the next your whole world can change. Keep yourselves hydrated out there guys this summer and slow things down when needed, it's not worth your life at the end of the day.

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