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My legs need a rest

Halfway through my run. I should do 4 minutes per kilometer now, I am not even coming close. No power. My legs need a rest, I need a rest.

It’s a week and a half before the Trail des Fantomes. I admit, I am getting nervous. 68 kilometers sounds like a lot, feels like a lot. Okay, maybe not for a seasoned ultra runner, but I still feel like a newbie. This is going to be my longest race ever, and I am not sure if I am as ready as I should be.

RELATED: Could I run further than 55 kilometers? 


More strength, less running

My approach has been different this time, than when I trained for the Dolomiti Extreme Trail earlier this year. For that race I mostly made kilometers. Lots of kilometers at a low heart rate. The result was what I hoped for. I made it to the finish line. In time.

RELATED: Run slow to become fast

This time I added strength training to my program, as I discovered in the Dolomites I was lacking strength to do the steep climbs. On Monday I do a dumbbell and/or TRX (total body resistance exercise) workout, on Tuesday I do a combination training; running 5 times 1 kilometer, followed by 12 forward, backward and side lunges, 12 squats and 12 heel raises, and on Wednesday I do another strength training session with dumbbells.

It does mean I have been running less. Or at least one day a week less. For the Dolomiti Extreme Trail I was mostly running 5 times a week, for the Trail des Fantomes I’ve been running 4 times a week. On one side I do need the kilometers and 5 runs a week feels better than four, on the other side I don’t always have the motivation to run 5 times a week. Four suits me more. Plus I am 50 years old, I need my rest.

RELATED: How to train as an ageing athlete


Extra kilometers

All these extra strength sessions are probably the reason my legs are tired now. They are happy to run 5.30 minutes per kilometer, they are not happy to run 4 minutes per kilometer. To compensate for the four training sessions a week I did in the last couple of months, I’ve done five training sessions per week in the last couple of weeks. It’s been good to make some extra kilometers, I think it will be even better to give my legs a rest now. Fresh legs are what I need.

Normally I taper 3 weeks, before a big race. I say normally, because I have run an ultra 50 kilometers, a week after running a trail marathon. And to be fair, that’s still my fastest ultra to date. However, a pair of fresh legs at the start of a race is nice. For me that means a taper of 3 weeks. A taper with lots of yoga.

RELATED: Tapering improves running performance


Taking it easy

The idea behind a taper is to keep the intensity, but to lower the kilometers. The way my legs feel now, I think I have to drop the intensity as well. Just keep them moving, keep them happy, but do give them a break. I mean they have to run 68 kilometers a week and a half from now. They will get enough intensity and enough kilometers, so let’s give them some rest.

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