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Lessons from my 35 kilometers trail run

This is my third day without running. I’m resting my legs after my 35 kilometers trail run on December 24. I want to run in a way that I can keep on running; injury free. So let’s look at the biggest lessons I can learn from this long trail run.

I am fit again

I am fit again. Maybe that sounds stupid for somebody who just ran 35 kilometers, but there is a difference between being fit and being fit. The last couple of weeks my legs felt good, yet my heart rate went up pretty quickly when I was running. Not extreme, but above my lactate threshold. I think that’s one of the reasons I already had heavy legs after 15 kilometers during the Brabantse Kluis Trail, two weeks ago. 

During the 35 kilometers trail run I ran 68,3 percent in heart rate zone 1 and 2, 31,7 percent in heart rate zone 3 (tempo) and less than 0,1 percent in heart rate zone 4 (threshold). To be precise, I ran 10 seconds in zone 4. For me, this is a sign I’m recovered from COVID.

My legs are fine

As I just told you, during the Brabantse Kluis Trail my legs felt heavy after 15k. This time they felt good, all the way to the end. Yes, they got a bit tired in the last kilometers, but just a bit. I think they were probably more cold than tired, as I was running in shorts. 

On Christmas day and Boxing day, the days after my 35 kilometers trail run, my legs still felt fine. A bit stiff, but I had no muscle pain. I think this quick recovery is another sign my legs can handle these long distances now. Especially because there were only two weeks between the 32 kilometers run at the Brabantse Kluis trail and this run. 

My left knee hurts

To be honest, my legs were not totally fine, because my left was painful. Again, as I felt my knee two weeks ago as well. This time it was worse. I can run with it, but it doesn’t feel nice. 

There is another big difference with the Brabantse Kluis Trail. After that race I only felt my left knee when I went out for a run again. This time I also felt it when I was walking. Today is the first time I’m pain free. However, I haven’t gone for a run yet. 

It does mean I have to find a solution for this. Either take longer to recover, or find some strengthening or stretching exercises that make the pain go away.

Pieces of the puzzle

I don’t like it that I’m in pain, yet long distance running, for me, is kind of a puzzle. It’s not just running. It’s stretching, strength training, food before the race, and fuel during the race, and even taking care of myself after the race. The whole picture has to be perfect. 

On a positive note: my ankles are feeling fine.

Happy to see Sara

Sara helped me out during this 35 kilometers trail run by playing refreshment post. Twice she was waiting for me with a cup of tea and a pancake. Both times I was really happy to see her. When I’m running the Dolomiti Extreme Trail (55k), Sara will be my crew, awaiting me after 37 kilometers. 

During the Sussex ultra I’m on my own. Yet, Sara will be there as well. The ultra is the marathon track and the 10k track joint together, so after the marathon I will pass by the finish and can see her for a moment. During the 35k I felt how mentally uplifting that is. 

Fueling on the run

Nutrition wise I was fine. I ate two pancakes for breakfast with peanut butter and chocolate sprinkles. During the run I took a Maurten gel every half an hour. After 12 kilometers and 24 kilometers I ate half a pancake. 

Sara gave me some ginger tea to drink, after 12 kilometers. For the rest I ran on Isostar. 

On schedule

Looking at the total picture I would say I’m on schedule for my first ultra in March. I just have to fix my knee and then I’m ready for the next test; a mid-winter marathon.

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