Trailscape Wendover Trail Marathon

This week was a race week so I had to take it easy until the week end.

Monday I did 10k at 4:31.
Tuesday rested.
Wednesday ran for 9k a 4:48.
Thursday I did 7k at 4:49.
Friday I rested and started worrying about all the things that could go wrong in my legs and feet, but nothing felt wrong.

I felt in a good shape and ready for the Trailscape Wendover marathon.
I prepared my bag with the cold temperature kit as the weather forecasts was predicting temperatures around 1 degree and possible snow fall. Ate lots of pasta and potatos and went to sleep early.
The race was in the Chilterns hills. I knew it was a nice area as I had been there for a long walk a couple of years ago.


I also knew it was going to be quite a hilly race and as it had rained the days before I was again expecting mud. I was just hoping it would be less terrible than the previous one. I was soon going to discover that there is worst mud than the one experienced before.


I got there quite early and it was pretty cold. It had snowed a bit during the night and it looked very nice. I went to take my bib and register and then went back in the car to get warm, listen to some inspiring music and get dressed.


I packed more gels that the last one and this time I tried to run with electrolytes in my water bottle. I ate a banana, a power bar, drank more water, did a quick warm up and then went for the race briefing. As last time everything was very well organised and everyone was friendly.

And then we were off. Around 70 people started running on a nice field that gave the wrong impression that it was not going to be too muddy after all.
Two guys in front just shot off and even I knew there was no point in following them. I stayed a bit behind and after a bit the track started going up hill and we thinned a bit. I think I was fourth when at the 6th kilometre I encountered the first problem. By then I had already realised the mud was going to be a problem but on a long downhill slope that looked more like a small river bed there was also a bit of snow. I gathered too much speed and at the bottom lost control, slipped and fell on the ground. Like an idiot I was worrying about cleaning my gloves (so that I could grab my gels and water without problems later on) and did not notice a small sign and took the wrong turn. I run for 200 meters uphill and then realised there were no signs, I turned around and saw 20 runners going completely the other direction. It took me a lot of effort to catch them all. On a long large uphill track I overtook almost everyone again: error number one.
By the first checkpoint I think I was in the top 7 and I was running with four other guys.


The next 10 km were a mud fest. Probably the hardest of the whole race, even if on flat ground. It was impossible to run with consistency. We had to jump puddles, change direction, hold on trees not to fall in deeper mud. It was very tiring, the sucking on the shoes was terrible, I tfeared cramps again. At that point I should have slowed down a lot and I should have run by myself instead of trying to stay with those guys. Instead I pushed and pushed and ran with an average of 5:30 even in that mud and uphill. That was error number two.

At the time I did not realise I was doing a mistake and I felt quite good when me and one of the guys arrived at the halfway point. As the race was basically a figure of eight with the start, end and middle race in the same spot we were back at the start at around 22km. A nice lady marshal shouted at us that we were doing great, so well we were 3rd and 4th (someone had retired). In my own sick mind I thought “that’s cool, I feel super good, the worst climb was in the middle, I am close to third, now it is just a race between me and this guy, if it goes badly I will just finish 4th and he will finish 3rd”. I was so wrong. the only correct assumption I had made was about him, he did actually finish 3rd.

We run together for a bit but while chatting we did not notice we had taken the wrong path again. Error number three. We had followed the signs that we were supposed to follow at the end, on the way to the finish line. So back we went and again I killed myself running uphill on the slippery mud to catch all the guys that had overtaken us.
By the 30th km I was dead. There was no gel, no water, no aid station snacks that could help me. I could not run anymore. I walked uphill, shuffled in the mud on the flat and sort of run downhill and people started overtaking me. Then the worst happened, I started having cramps in my belly. Terrible ones, I could not even walk. I started feeling cold. I stopped and put my jacket on and then discovered how low you can feel when wet, tired, cold and alone in the mud. That’s what I love about trail marathons. They make you feel stuff that half marathons don’t do. States of mind that are completely new. I hated it at the time, but I am treasuring those moments now. It’s all experience.

I started counting every step I did running, up to 10. then back to 1, 2, 3… again. If I was not running I was not counting, but then my head started counting by itself and the legs had to follow. I stopped thinking about my legs and my belly, I only wated to count, which made me want to run too.

I made myself run/walk for the next 10km and then saw a sign that said “Last mile”. Yeah, finally, I could not believe it!
I started running fast towards the sign and then boom, the track turned 180 degrees and went up the hill again. I wanted to kill someone.
At the top of the hill I found myself were I went with the other guy by mistake 20km earlier and I knew it was the end. As it was downhill it was a pleasure to let myself go, thinking about the hot tea and cake slice waiting for me at the finish line.


I finished 14th in 4 hours and 34 minutes. A terrible result, I finished an hour later than the first guy! I hate myself for having wasted so much energy in the first half. I really need to learn that 42km are a lot, there is no point in trying to catch up people ahead, there is time. I have to learn to run my race and when it is hilly and muddy I should not just add 30 seconds to my minutes/km pace, I should add 1 minute and run consistently at that speed.

Anyway it was a blast. I hated and loved it in equal measure and I am already looking forward to the next one (which is flat, so I might again calculate my pace wrong).

The organisation was fantastic and I will definitely take part in some (if not all) of the races they will organise next winter. I would like to thank the organisers and marshals for the wonderful work and Maurizio Crispi for the two photos of me above.

Overall I ran 69km this week. I will now rest a bit the next week.

See you on the trails/roads.


No rest

There is not much to report this week. I kept on running regularly every day. I did not rest on Monday and basically ran 9 days in a row, a little record for me.

Monday I did 12k at 4:26 min/km. Nothing special.

On Tuesday I tried something different that I had never done: longer repeats. After my usual warm up I did three 2km repeats at around 3:45 min/km with 2 minutes of recovery. Finished with a bit of cool down. It was a good experience. I am happy I managed to do them faster and faster and felt good at the end.

Wednesday I went out for an easy 13km run. I did it at an average of 4:32 min/km. Even if I was feeling a bit tired it was a good kind of tired, not the type you feel like breaking, but the one that makes you feel like you are doing a good job and pushing yourself further without killing yourself. Once I get to the recover/tapering week I am sure I will get rid of this tiredness and be stronger at the end, ready for the marathon.

To do a bit of hill training I went to Kingston Hill on Thursday. I did five 500mt uphill with the downhill to rest. I could not do them as fast as last week, but I did an extra one.

On Friday I did 10k of recovery as the hills the day before had left a lot of tiredness in my legs and then on Saturday I went for a 21.1k (not casual) run in Richmond Park. It was quite a good day. Running in the daylight is always a plus after 5 days running in the dark. So even if tired (my right hamstring really was asking for a rest) I managed to do the half marathon distance at a 4:18 min/km average, pushing a bit in the last three km.

And that was it for the week. I completed a 9 day streak, ran 6 times this week for a total of 81km and now I am ready to rest. Next week I will only run 8/10km three times and then Saturday I’ll be ready for my second trail marathon. I cannot wait.

Have fun!



This week I decided to stop following The Cool Impossible training schedule. I have basically done the whole of it, only 2 weeks left, but they were not the right training runs just before the next trail marathon. So now I am going with my own schedule like in the old days, but with a lot more knowledge.
I used to run just as fast as I could and once in a while do some interval training and run a bit longer the week end. Now after almost 1 year and a half following well organised schedules I think I know what I am supposed to do. I know the importance of recovery runs, frequent interval days and tempo runs. So now I am going on my own!
Last week I did a lot of speed work and the 38k on Sunday left me really tired so the plan was to keep it relaxed this week, do more next week and than taper for the Rail To Trail Wendover marathon.

Monday I rested after the long run on Sunday.
Tuesday I woke up and it was snowing! Beautiful! I went out super excited as it does not happen very often. The beauty was that the roads were I live are not that travelled at 5am so the snow was fresh and untouched. As light reflects on the snow it was easier to see where I was going and so I decided to take a route tat is usually too dark at this time of year, from the Teddington Lock to Hampton Court Palace on the river path. Fantastic soft snow. I wanted to do only 10k, but I was enjoying it so much I had to do more. I ended up doing a sort of fartlek for 13.5km. It’s a shame that it rained later on and no snow was left anywhere.


Wednesday, to prepare for the next trail marathon, I went for a run on Kingston Hill to do some hill repeats. I did five 500mt climbs and used the downhill to rest. then on the way home I did 5 fast sprints. It was incredibly cold, but I felt very good and strong.
Unfortunately by the time I was on the train to work I started feeling a bit strange: super headache and nausea. So much so that by 11am I left work and went back home. I spent most of the day sleeping and the day after I decided not to run.

Friday I went out for a 13k run where I tried to go a bit faster than a recovery run, but not too much. Ended up with a 4:18 min/km average. I felt good.

Saturday I did not want to do a long run as this was the rest week so I went out armed with just one gel and the handheld bottle (this time with salts in it) and went for a run around Richmond Park via Richmond Bridge. I tried to keep a steady pace under 4:30 and did it without any particular effort. Nothing special to report apart from the fact I enjoyed it very much. Saturday mornings are the best of my running week.

On Sunday it was sunny and I could not resist and decided to do the run I skipped on Thursday, so I went out for a relaxed 12k run in Bushy Park. Beautiful as always.
Talking about Bushy Park, have a look at this wonderful video by @juliableasdale.


Overall it was a good week, especially the run in the snow. As planned, I did less km, 75k in total. Next week I will do more kms and then taper. I cannot wait for the next marathon! Then I will have a third marathon in March. After that 7 weeks to do the final preparations for the NDW50. The plan is to increase the weekly km by doing two long runs during the week end and rest on Monday instead of Sunday. I will need to work more on time spent running more than on the speed which I tend to do too much.

See you!


Training, training and more training

It has been another week of intensive training. I ran 6 times for a total of 94.7km.

The week started with an easy recovery run on Monday. 10.5km at 4:44. It was a very warm morning. I was wearing my lighter winter kit and it was too hot for that too. The temperatures are very unpredictable these days so I bought a handy thermometer that will tell me each morning what I should wear before heading out.

Tuesday the real training started with a nice set of intervals. After the warm up I did five 4′ at a pace of 3:40 with 4′ rest in between. It was really a killer day, but I managed to do them with Swiss watch precision. I finished with a long cool down and after a total of 13k I was home ready for some stretching. It is days like these that really test my hip, Achilles tendon and right foot (my 3 weak spots).
Luckily I discovered the power of the slow recovery runs which I always avoided (big mistake) and Wednesday I did a slow 10k run and then felt like new.

So much so that on Thursday I decided to try and beat my 5k PB. As I was supposed to run 20′ at a fast pace (above 162BPM) I decided to try and do a PB, just for fun.
I did a 3k warm up and then did 5k keeping the heart above 162 which meant running between 3:30 and 3:40. It was a lot of fun, but left me all broken to pieces at the end. 17:57 to run 5k, not bad considering it was so early in the morning I was still half asleep. I did an extra 1k cool down and then home to check if I had done the PB. Unfortunately I did not manage to by less than 10 seconds.


Friday I took it easy to recover from the day before and ran 14km at 4:45. My legs were happy at the end.

Saturday I could not do the long run as it was raining too much (alternating with some snow) and I did not feel running wet for 3 hours. I regretted it straight away as it stopped raining as soon as I had breakfast, the kind of breakfast you cannot run afterwards, too much milk.
So I waited until Sunday and went out with the plan to do 42k. Armed with 3 gels and a handheld bottle I went to Kingston and then followed the river up to Hammersmith bridge until I had run 21k, then turned around and went back. Unfortunately I took a shortcut and got home after 38km. I was really tired. The run started very painfully from the beginning with my legs hurting from the first km and got even more tiring because of all the mud and the wind. Strangely it felt like running against the wind in any direction I was going! It was a good day anyway, very challenging but fun. I was happy to be home at the end. Final result: 38km at an average pace of 4:56 min/km. I was so tired on Sunday that I went to sleep at 10pm.

Have fun!