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The biggest lessons from the Bear Trail

This morning there was a big competition, but we have a winner. My quadriceps hurt the most. It was a neck and neck race with my tibialis anterior (shins), but my quads won. Although, if tiredness counts, that wins. Hands on. In other words, I’m feeling the Alfa Bear Trail of yesterday everywhere. Time to look at the biggest lessons it has taught me.

More altitude training

The first one is the easiest. I need to train more in the mountains. Since July this year I’ve run 9 times more than 20 kilometers. Yesterday’s trail run was 24k. I can do the distance. The Viking Steam Trail was further and I’ve done one training of almost 27k and one of 27,5 kilometers. I felt good after all of them. So the problem is the altitude. I’ve only run three times more meters uphill.

Slow down

I felt strong yesterday for the first 16 kilometers, after that I started to struggle. Why? Probably, because I started too fast. 

I did notice my heart rate was high, but because my legs were so good, I kept going. I finished with an average of 6 minutes and 32 seconds per kilometer. When I ran the Dolomiti Extreme Trail I finished with an average of 8 minutes and 2 seconds per kilometer. That’s one minute and 30 seconds slower.

Yes, in the Dolomites the climbs were longer and I had to do 56 more meters of altitude, but that race was  only 11 kilometers long. Not 24. So I definitely can run slower

Walk more

Maybe not just run slower, I can also walk more. I did in the Dolomites, I did when I ran up Mount Conero in Italy. That trail was 19 kilometers and had 814 meters of altitude. I ran 8 minutes and 11 seconds per kilometer there. Or better, I ran/walked, because that time I did a lot of walking as well.

All the walking will keep my heart rate under control. Which also means I will burn more fat and less carbs. Burning fat is already an energy saver. 

Finish slow

I like to finish fast. This time I started faster than usual, but I expected to have something in the tank for a fast finish as well. That wasn’t the case. Yet I pushed myself, and ran 5 minutes and 26 seconds per kilometer on my last kilometer. The fastest kilometer of my race. 

Why? It doesn’t matter to me if I finish number 189, 195 or 212. And the time doesn’t matter as well. Finishing fast, is just a habit. I like to overtake a couple of people at the end of the race, who overtook me in the beginning. But that’s just ego. If my legs are empty, my legs are empty. I should respect that. 

Eat more salt

I did well on nutrition. My stomach is okay with the Maurten gels. I had a fake Coca Cola at the refreshment post. That didn’t have the stimulating effect a real Coca Cola has.

The only thing I craved and didn’t had, was salt. I have to find some salty snacks that are easily digestible. If you have any recommendations, please let me know through the contact form or on Instagram


Training in the Ardennes

That completes my biggest lessons. So now what? Well, my idea was from December onward to focus on my first ultra trail in Sussex, in Spring next year. That one will have 1.600 meters of altitude. I was planning to go a few weekends to the Ardennes in Belgium to train. If you ask me now, I will go more than a few times. 

Besides that, I want to run more weekly trails on hilly terrain. Which means, Sara and I will have to drive a bit, as it’s all flat around here. And last, but not least, I will do more strength training, specifically geared towards running uphill. That should do it. I hope. 

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