Isn’t it? Well I hope so because I appear to have been doing a very very good job of it over the last week! It’s bread after pasta after rice after potato at the moment 🙊 my favourite foods! I appear to have a marshmallow addiction problem as well 🤦🏻♀️ I’m putting it down to building my strength ready for SM (oh my god it’s just over a week away 😨).
Spencer Millbery (@smillberry on twitter) was the third reply to my questions, an inspiring read and a great example as to why you should never give up!
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into Ultra running.
My name is Spencer and I’m 40 years old married with 2 children 12 and 10. Approx 6 years ago I weighed 17.5 stone and had never run before. After many failed attempts I eventually lost 4.5 stone and decided I needed to challenge myself. On the many failed attempts of losing weight I’d always tried to start running but never went more than a 100 yards before giving up. Once I’d lost about 3 or so stone I entered a local 10k race. I found a training plan online, followed it and finished the 10k in 63 mins with out stopping. That race was in June/July 2012 and in late September I entered another 10k and finish slightly quicker. By now I was hooked on running and entered a half marathon for February 2013. Unfortunately injury stopped me from competing but after Physio I came back and carried on with 10k’s and half’s.
By now my times were getting faster, 10k was down to 49:50 and half’s 1:51 and I new the next step was a full marathon. In 2014 I entered Brighton marathon for April 2015 and started training. All was going well until about 3-4 weeks out when my knee started playing up in a 20 mile race. I slowed training down until the start of the race so I could be ready. Brighton marathon came and all was fine until about 9 miles in I had a pain in my hip, I tried to run through it but after 15 miles I was in agony. I ran/walked/hobbled to the finish finishing in about 4:55. (4 hours was target). A week later I tried running again and the pain was still there so off to physio again and resting.
Now the ultra bit. Somewhere around this point a friend from my running club had suggested we have a go at an ultra race, 100k over 2 days split into 50k per day. Bearing in mind I wasn’t running much if any and my concern of my hip I said yes let’s do it. The beauty being the exaggerated cut off times and the run/walk strategy of ultras I didn’t think I couldn’t complete it.
In July 2015 I did Race to the Stones 100k over 2 days and finished in a time of around 15-16 hours with no hip issues, and so ultra running was my new fun thing…
2) When, what and how far was your first Ultra? Tell us a bit about it / add pictures if you have any.
Race to the Stones July 2015 100k along the ridgeway (2 day option)
You can do 50k on Saturday, 50k on Sunday (starting from halfway), 100k with camping overnight at halfway or 100k straight through. Starting at the farm in Lewknor then following the Ridgeway all the way until Avebury Stones in Wiltshire. The is for runners or walkers so the cut off times are very generous.
3) Which Ultra would you now put down as your favourite and why?
Hard one, maybe the one above as it was my first and after Brighton marathon I shouldn’t really have been there. If not that then the 100 mile race I completed in April this year. I think only 60% of starters complete the race in the allotted time so to one of those is very special. 26 hours on your feet non stop is a tall order and having the 28 hour cut off time always in the back of your mind.
4) Do you follow a training plan?
Yes I always create a plan to follow to help me build up mileage beforehand. It’s like a marathon plan but instead of long single runs I add 2 runs in back to back of 10/15 miles.
5) What advice can you give for those looking to complete their first Ultra?
Practice what you will wear on the day, practice what nutrition you will have on the day. Understand it won’t be easy, it’s a bloody long way! But it is achievable as long as you train your body and mind correctly. Don’t waste time at CP’s, don’t sit down unless you really have to, keep moving forward.
6) What fuel do you take on when running long and how often?
For reasons I don’t know why I struggle to chew/swallow on very long runs. Based on this I use tailwind which is a powder you add to water that gives you all the nutrition you need. I will also add a small handful of crisps and maybe a corner of a sandwich if I can get it down.
I have 2-3 sachets of tailwind in a 2ltr bladder of water, this will last me 20-25 miles. I will sip it every 8/10 minutes so that I’m taking on fuel constantly. I’ll also have a soft flask of pure water for sipping if it’s hot and to wash food down.
7) What is the best equipment / clothing you have every purchased for running?
Altra lone peak shoes have been the saviour of my little toes, previously Hoka challengers ruined them. Garmin fenix 3 watch, 16 hour battery life with all things switched on and a gpx file running. Can also be charged while on the go and still have gps running.
8) What would be your dream race?
UTMB in France or Western States 100 in USA.
9) In one word describe how we can expect to feel whilst completing our first Ultra.
10) Favourite re-fuel food?
Pizza or curry