Chiltern Way Countdown

Chiltern Way

It’s a mere 10 days to go until the big and scary plans become big and scary actually happenings. I’m in taper now although given the last few weeks, nobody would spot much difference.

I’m already wondering if this post will be a way of getting my excuses in early.

My training, for the most part, has been okay, if a little lacking in structure. I’ve run lots – more than I did for my Lakeland 100 attempt – but this time around I’ve neglected gym work, done nothing in the way of interval training and added the odd tempo run in here and there. So mileage has (for me) been good while running with purpose, less so. That being said, most of my runs have been recces on the route itself.

Just don’t ask about the injury!

After signing up back in May, I started doing my research. It’s probably a good thing that I did it after I’d signed up because if I had done it before, I probably wouldn’t have entered. Even though I knew it was going to be tough, it was only when reading Lindley Chambers’ RD report and David Pryce’s finishers report that I began to understand what I had put my name down for. Select quotes:

A really interesting quote from Steve was that he thought it was harder than the Viking Way Ultra from the start! I knew it would be a tough race but was surprised to hear that. Steve finished the Viking Way earlier this year. Its a race I have tried twice and not finished!

-Lindley Chambers

My pacing schedule predicted that this leg should take me 2 ½ hours, but it ended up taking me six.

-David Pryce

The Chiltern Way 200k is a monster. It’s not the distance that makes it tough, but the combination of distance, tricky route finding, and difficult terrain.

-David Pryce

I can’t quite describe the hollow feeling of terror and despair that pervaded through me after reading all that.

So I resolved to recce the course as I best I could. For the most part, I have quite a good memory when it comes to routes. (I’m sure that will come back to bite me at some point…) Some lessons I learned from the UTLD were a) you travel faster if you don’t have to keep checking your map and b) being tired and exhausted from being on the move for 25+ hours means navigation in the dark is next to impossible. At the very least, I wanted to make sure that I at least checked out the parts of the course that I would be doing in the dark and when I was tired.

I’m glad I did. Some parts of the route are difficult to find even with a map (although paying a little closer attention to the map might have helped in some cases) while in other cases, the official race route doesn’t quite tie up with the waymarked route when you’re out there. Even last week I got totally lost on one section and missed the turning entirely, ending up a mile off track. But I know exactly where the turning is now and can visualise it quite clearly, so that’s alright then. :)

Unfortunately, my preparation took a bit of a setback when I turned my ankle during a short tempo run a few weeks ago. It got a bit messy:


Weirdly, at that point in time I had been considering pulling out or deferring the race but as soon as I couldn’t run, I really, really wanted to do it. I rested up for 10 days before doing some short walking recces (with some careful jogging). Although still prone to swelling a bit more than normal, it survived big mileage last week, including a long run over the last 36 miles of the course. Even more encouraging was that the next day, although tired, my legs felt fine and by Monday, I had much less stiffness than I expected and no DOMS at all. I just keep trying to not think about the fact that 36 miles is only a little over a quarter of the total distance!

So here we are, 10 days to go and tapering down. Physically there’s very little I can do between now and then apart from keeping the legs moving, foam rolling, stretching and easing out the various chronic bits of tightness in my calves, ITB, hips, piriformis, TFL and, well, you get the idea. The hardest bit I need to do is a mental adjustment. I’m still feeling the fear and I know I have a lot of doubt and fear in my mind about the race and I need to address that before the big day comes.

3 thoughts on “Chiltern Way Countdown

  1. Lyle

    As always, my friend, I think you’re a complete loon – albeit a loon I’m also somewhat in awe of for even considering these mad events.

    I’m sure you’ll do fine at it – you’ve got the experience to complete it, along with the tenacity and determination to want to do so. (Hopefully coupled with a bit of common-sense, so if you stuff yourself in the next ten days, or during the run, you don’t damage yourself further by still trying to complete)

    I can’t offer advice on it, obvs – all I can say is that it’s one heck of a challenge. And you’re good at handling those!

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