I like to do one race during marathon training to measure my progress and while my preference is to stick to road running for this, I decided to sign up for the Forfar Multi-Terrain Half Marathon for a change. I love off-road running as part of my winter training and seldom sign up for races but I decided to go for this one on the back of a recommendation from my friend Graeme Pallister.
The signs were good when the race sold out in roughly 24 hours back in November. We set off in plenty time this morning along with my client, Ian Christie, who took up running last summer and was about to tackle his first half and Graeme, seeing as it was his bright idea!
The race was actually pretty good and certainly they did manage to get us through every terrain you could imagine. From woodland track to road to farm track to hills to ploughed fields to deep water pools! The race was well marshalled and well signed, which was particularly useful as by the latter stages of the race there was a good distance between the runner in front and me.
I was curious as to how I would get on as I felt tired after a long, hard week and set off with no expectations. I have discovered this works well for me as I always run better under these circumstances and I also felt the benefits of Metafit kicking in. The first mile was quick in order to get a decent place then I settled into a comfortable pace. The great thing about these kind of races is that with different things to concentrate on, the miles tend to fly by. I found myself getting into a steady rhythm on the uneven surfaces but then when we got onto the road, particularly on the inclines, I started speeding up. I found myself playing a tactical game of catching people and passing them on the inclines and using the flat bits as recoveries. This worked very well as only one person who passed me early on, stayed ahead of me at the end. This wasn’t my intention, it just seemed to be what my body wanted to do. The pace throughout felt great and it was only in the last couple of miles coming down off the hill, across the ploughed field and waiting to cross a road that my legs started to feel it although I did manage one of my quickest miles at mile 11!
One of the things that club-organised races are rated by is the quality of the post-race spread. This was easily the best spread I’ve ever seen at any race! There were 9 soups (yes, 9!) to choose from as well as a fine range of sandwiches and home baking. Absolutely brilliant!
All in all, I’m really happy with the way I’m performing in my runs even though I don’t feel I’m doing enough but then I always prefer quality over quantity as that is what is working for me, for my wife and the clients I have written training programs for. I’ve noticed that you don’t necessarily need to chase big mileage in marathon training, go for the best you can do in the time you have available and they key thing for me is the high intensity sessions. They hurt but they make the biggest difference.