Thursday, 20th February 2020
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When all the training is done...

by Editor
Saturday 12th April 2014

Run247 columnist Robert Britton, has some advice for the marathon runners amongst you, while he is training hard on La Palma, where he is preparing for the Transvulcania Ultramarathon

Run247 columnist Robert Britton, has some advice for the marathon runners amongst you, while he is training hard on La Palma, where he is preparing for the Transvulcania Ultramarathon

I hear there is quite a big race this weekend? THE Marathon I hear? Well last weekend was also “quite a big deal”. No not Brighton Marathon, nor Manchester or even the brilliant South Downs Way 50. It was the Reventon Trail El Paso 28km race on La Palma and El Paso was buzzing!

I’ve been out in my hut for nearly three weeks now and I was starting to wonder if it was helping at all?

Last Monday I was shattered, after “running” the first half of the TransVulcania Ultra marathon (HERE) and the rest of the week continued in that fashion. Tuesday I could barely put one foot in front of the other and if it were not for some high winds on the island I don’t think I would have got out on my run at all!

The week before had been over 100 miles (160km) of training and had seen a fair share of hills as well, but how often had I told people that it is about quality, not quantity of your training? Had I done something that would merely help support my argument in future and completely knackered myself out?

What would I advise anyone else to do? I listened to my body. I took it real easy last week, bearing in mind that I had a race on the Sunday and Omar Hernandez, the Race Director, had billed me as some superstar UK athlete and I didn’t know the Spanish for “I usually run for a 100 miles and on the little hills of Southern England”.

On the Friday and Saturdy before the race I manged a total of 35 minutes of running, with a few quicker strides, just to see how my body was. I even resorted to getting the lift to the third floor in the fancy Hotel Taburiente that had put me up for race weekend. With 1100m of ascent in the race I decided I didn’t really need those stairs the day before!

The Saturday was spent relaxing and scanning twitter to see how my friends THE Paul Navesey, Eddie Sutton and Rick Ashton were doing at the front end of the SDW50 and keeping an eye on plenty of other people running around the world, including some solid performances at the Coburg 24hr race in Australia (Barry Loveday recorded 265km and the Holy Grail of a negative split and Marty Hack had a great 24hr debut).

With London Marathon this weekend there are many people really worried that having a few days off and that resting was going to ruin all the months of hard training, that small niggles now could spell disaster and that the taper is a bad idea.

A taper doesn’t have to mean a complete stop, just a reduction in the intensity and volume of your training. Keeping the frequency is fine and, in my opinion, having a few extra days off can do the world of good. It is not just your legs that need a rest but your whole body, your mind and your shoes! See those people that hang around your house? They are your family, spend a bit of time with them. You will find that generally you get along with them when you’re not running all the time.

So on Sunday it was time to get ON Trail in El Paso and the start line was loaded with top runners from around the Canaries, including Dailos Garcia Pombrol, local hero Paquito who won the 21km Transvulcania race last year and TrangoWorld’s Jose Manuel Leon Medina. The race went quickly onto single track and up to the Cumbre at Reventon, a sneaky 1400m above sea level. I knew the locals could climb so now was the moment of truth. Would the hard work pay off?

The pace was fast uphill, but not unmanagable, as a great snake of runners lined up behind us as the running bug hits La Palma and everyone wants to run the trails like Kilian.

Dailos breaks and I try to go with him but the man is a beast. I manage to open a small gap on those behind though and, with a mixture of small “Anton” steps and long, hands-on-knees powerful strides, I keep the runners behind at a safe distance. It feels like my heart might just jump out of my throat but other than that it feels good!

Up, up and up we go and then suddenly down, for a mile or so, losing all that hard fought height and I know we still have to get to la Cumbre at 1400 metres. The woodland trails are magnificent and the running is so enjoyable even the pain subsides for a minute or two. Then we start uphill again.

The hill seems to go on forever and every time I look up Dailos is looking down (well in my head he is, in reality I can hardly see him). I pass an elderly man and ask him in Spanish if he is number one? He gives me a bemused look (probably due to my terrible Spanish) and I push on up the hill.

At the top the relief on my face is evident and I am on the TransVulcania trail, a section I know is runnable. The view either side is unbelievable, Tenerife and La Gomera are in full sight and clear skies all the way to the Atlantic on the West. This it is a little bit flat so I decide I best run quickly. The downhill is muy technical, not my forte!

Paquito is soon on my shoulder when we go downhill, but he does not over take. I tell myself that is because of my rapid, badman downhll skills, but deep down I know I am either in his way or he is just toying with me for a while. At the last checkpoint he makes his move and I reckon I’ll catch him on the tarmac downhill into El Paso, hammering down like a man possessed.

The man is not to be caught though, as hard as I try, even with the extra burst the amazing crowd provides to my finishing sprint. I worry I may have broken some hands high fiving at full pelt down the final tunnel but no law suits have arrived. What a finish it is though, El Paso welcomes everyone back to town!

There’s a sports massage and a paddling pool at the finish, as well as a fully stocked checkpoint to attack in a feeding frenzy! My new friend and interpretor Jose comes across the line not looking too happy, but finishes strong. We’re soon all smiling and laughing in a big hall where hundreds come for traditional Canarian food and traditional Canarian laughter. Even with all the different clubs on the island every here is friends.

I’m chuffed with my result and I know I’m getting better on those hills. Next up is another test at the Iznik ultra and I feel like I will do La Palma proud when I run!

I will be taking a couple of days off the week before too, because I have done the hard work as has everyone running London tomorrow. Race day is the fun bit remember? Good luck!


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