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Road to Jungle Ultra: Episode 2 ‘Adversity in training’

This is part of the ‘road to jungle ultra’ 12-part series covering the twelve week build up to the Yao Yai Ultra Trail 55km race. In this post I cover training plans and the importance of not sticking to them. If you missed it, here is the first episode introducing this project and the video that goes with it

Here it is! The video version of week 1 training

Everyone knows you need a training plan. And of course you need to follow it to the letter. Missing a session can lead runners to break out in a cold sweat, lose sleep and become stressed. Often we might end up trying to ‘catch up’ missed sessions later in the week. Should we be doing this?

At the start of this 12 week build up I wrote out a detailed plan, taking me from rubbish fitness back to my best in a steady, sensible and structured way. Along the way I added in the excitement of a ‘mystery trail race’ (mystery as I could only find 2 facts about it in English – date and distance) as well as my first every official marathon. I was happy with my plan, and felt confident it was ‘follow-able’ and would get me to the best shape possible for me within the time given.

Week 1 was a disaster as far as following the plan – and week 2 hasn’t started well either! However I am not getting worried about this and will adapt the plan. Sometimes, life, the universe or tarmac can get in the way of the best laid plans.

Sunrise easy run

Here are five good reasons not to complete a session:

  • Niggles/pain/injury – sometimes an ache is just tired muscles. Othertimes, it is the sign of an impending injury. Last week I was definitely really close to serious IT band issues (like those that kept me out for 2 months last year). This was not surprising in retrospect as after months of illness/injury and sporadic training I came out with all guns blazing racking up course records, hilly long runs and intervals. I have no issue with backing off for this reason, and in fact the knee is starting to feel stronger again with only a few missed sessions
  • Tarmac – I fell off my bike. Scooter that is. I was lucky to walk away with only road rash down my right elbow, hip and hand. I got out to run the next morning, but since then have felt really tired and sore. I overslept and missed track Tuesday, but I feel that the body just needed this extra time to recover. Thankfully, I had already adjusted to a light week, so this is a simple fix as I can get the missed session in tomorrow without impacting anything else.
  • Cancellation – The first race in my plan (Khlong Phanom 27km trail) has been postponed due to the COVID-19 situation in that district. This definitely means changing up my training plan. However, it could also be a blessing in disguise as it gives me more time to recover from the ‘near-miss’ injury and prepare for race #2 (Phang Nga international marathon)
  • Life – Sometimes family or work commitments stop me from getting sessions done. This is okay, life is a balance of all these different things. Running is a priority for me, but one of many priorities. As a father with 2 young children and a full time job with responsibilities I cannot run 70km+ in a week very often. I aim for 50 to 60, and recently I have struggled to make that (see above points!) Will this mean I won’t be the best runner I possibly could be? For sure! But this does not (necessarily) mean I need to address the balance.
  • No joy – sometimes running sucks and we don’t want to do it. Yes, we should push through if we want to be at our best for a specific race. But this hobby is meant to be fun! If it isn’t fun then it’s time to make some changes and look at why that is. I am rarely afflicted by this issue (probably due to my constant goal setting!) but trying to start this training block around injury has become draining, with limited motivation for slow running.

Having given all those reasons not to complete the training plan, now it is time to crack on with it! My knee is feeling better, my crash injuries are subsiding and there is an event to get excited about this weekend too! Here are my top 5 ways to regain a lost running mojo:

  1. Run with friends or a group
  2. Sign up for an exciting event for future motivation
  3. Try a new route
  4. Find an immediate challenge you can do – virtual race/Strava challenge
  5. Be patient and notice the small improvements that are taking place
On the right path?

Week 1 training summary and look ahead to week 2

Week 1 had already been significantly downsized due to the knee being sore. As it was, I was a long way off the plan anyway. Since I have come though the week with a huge improvement in how my knee feels, I am going to call the week a success anyway!

Track Tuesday I was pleased to be able to join Peter at 4’45 pace for the 2k reps, keeping me at a very comfortable pace. I only completed 3 out of 4 planned reps, but this was only to be sensible.

Thursday I only managed 5km rather than a planned 10. This was due to struggling to wake up, combined with a planned decision to take time to film episode 1 of my YouTube series following the plan. The beautiful sunrise shots I got were well worth the reduced mileage.

On Friday I was defeated by a thunderstorm. It was so bad I couldn’t even make it out of the house to get to the gym and treadmill! Instead, I used the time to stretch and foam roll. Looking back, this may have been the best use of my time anyway.

My Sunday long-run was already going to be short this week due to family commitments, but this was only a good thing to protect the knee. After falling off my scooter on Saturday I was battered and bruised, so the 10km felt TOUGH. But, my knee felt almost ache-free so I ended the week feeling comfortable.

Week 2: Another easy week, with only a few small runs so I can push a little bit supporting my friend Raz in his attempt to marathon PB on Sunday morning. I will be filming, supporting and running the last 18km with him as he shoots for a 3 hour 30 minute time. Really looking forward to a bit of an ‘event’ to get some spark back into my running. I missed Tuesday track due to exhaustion (probably from bike crash injuries) but there is scope in the plan to catch up – hoping to find running buddies to join me as slow running is not interesting when it is the only type of run I am doing!

Current training feeling: Cautiously optimistic!

Enjoyment of week 1: 2/10 I find not being able to push frustrating!

Highlight of the week: Thursday morning sunrise.

Aim for week 2: No hard efforts. Increase distance and listen to the body.

Biggest achievement: Publishing my first (every) vlog episode! Please check it out, Like and Subscribe. First episode found at the top of the post, and second episode will be out early next week

How do you cope with adversity during a training block? I am currently not revising my race goals and waiting to see how I feel in a few weeks – would you be adjusting your goals and expectations already?

Next week: I look at how to build a training plan yourself, and effective ways to add in strength, technique and flexibility work for runners with limited time.

Published by Big Adventures on Average Talent

Big adventures on average talent through running everything from 5km to ultramarathons of any type, with some mountain biking and hiking. I am aiming to become more sustainable in everything I do.

4 thoughts on “Road to Jungle Ultra: Episode 2 ‘Adversity in training’

  1. Mojo recovery No6 – forget about routes, plans, times, distances, speeds and just go out for a run for the pleasure of running and being outside – it’s that which probably got you into running in the first place. Most of my plans are so loose as to hardly be worthy of the name.


    1. Good tip and definitely one I thought of included. I didn’t in the end because sometimes I get motivation and enjoyment from thinking about pace and the plan (although that depends on my mindset!) My plans are flexible, but I love having planned in key sessions at a specific pace. I know my favorite time each week is just after ‘Track Tuesday’ harder sessions. But right now having to run slow on all my runs is getting to me

      Liked by 1 person

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