Training Log | Training wheels are off: Weeks 1 & 2 Ultra-Training

I have followed with interest a number of fab blogs recently that chart the training log of the dedicated amateur runner. Particularly fascinating ones include Gemma on her hunt for a sub-2:50 marathon time (Marathon Girl), the inspiring Julia who is trying to run 26.2 marathons before she turns 26.2 (Carbs & Kilometers) and the super speedy Gill who charts her progress at the incredibly fast end of the pack (Bland on the Run).

Now I suspect I will never be as fast as any of those amazing women but as my acceptance in the realm of the middle of the pack takes shape I realise there is something I can accomplish that many can’t: distance. Crossing the Ironman finish line this year not only took me in to a new category amongst the population but especially amongst women I became a bit of an ‘elite’ purely in the completion of that mega task. As I now step in to the even darker art of ultra-running I’m aware once again that I am taking on challenges that very few of the population would deem normal.

So inspired by the blogs I like to read I thought I would chart my training log weekly so you can follow my journey on the road to ultra. When you run a marathon there are thousands of options of plans you can follow. By Ironman a few firm favourites (I’d really recommend Don Fink’s book if you are interested in what I followed). When we get to ultra-marathons there just isn’t the same access to information. Partially that’s because every challenge is different: it’s not a set length, set ascent, set time. And partially so few people do it that it just wouldn’t sell the magazines and books!

So here is my attempt at stepping up from my double marathon month (but with a three week gap) in September, and following a bit of rest and recovery for some tendonitis in my ankles. Fiona vs Ultra. Please, please, please comment – let me know any advice, training guidance, sessions you think I should include – would love some steering! Let’s do this.

23rd October – 29th October
Monday 23rd October
Brought the racing bike back out of the shed so hoping that can help with some aerobic strength that reduces the strain on my still tender ankles.
Cycle Commuting: 20.6km (67 minutes total)
Swimming: 1000m: 200m BS WU, 750m FC MS, 50m BS CD (29 minutes)

Tuesday 24th October
Tuesday is running club with work and my ankles are tight when I wake up so I think I still need to take it easy
Cycle Commuting: 15.2km (50 minutes)
Running: Easy pace with work: 6.3km | Time: 38:18 | Av Pace: 6:01/km | Elev. Gain 33m

Wednesday 25th October
Rest day. Proper rest: take the tube and everything

Thursday 26th October
Thursday morning means Beigel Run with AR Collective. Meet Libby and cycle over to East London with her. She’s very fast considering she’s on a single speed and I struggle to keep up!
Cycle Commuting: 11.6km (40 minutes)
Running: Chatting pace – quite a slow Beigel run so Libby and I peel off half way round making for a slow 5km and a faster 5km. 9.8km | Time 1:01:00 | Av Pace: 6:11/km | Elev Gain: 40m
Physio exercises: 18 minutes of work on my ankles

Friday 27th October
Crack out the head torch and turn Adidas Runners Friday morning session in to a long run.
Running: Long run – 21.2km | Time 2:01:04 | Av Pace: 5:41/km | Elev Gain: 105m
Cycle: 4.3km (17 minutes)

Saturday 28th October
Catching the early train back to Cambridge to get back in time for parkrun helps with the cycle distance.
Cycle: 18.1km (58 minutes)
Running: Decent pacey parkrun after yesterday’s mileage. 5km | 23:40 | Av Pace: 4:57/km | Elev Gain: 7m (haha! Cambridge is so flat!)
Also run in the very cute Eunice her final 1.8km (13:33) for her to get a PB – she’s very inspiring seeing as she is just 6!

Sunday 29th October
My brilliant friend Roisin suggests some middling mileage and kindly offers to get up early enough so I can fit it in before church. Beautiful run from Cambridge out to Grantchester and back. Good level of chat!
Running: 14km | Time 1:21:44 | Av Pace: 5:50/km | Elev Gain: 34m

Week One Totals
Running: 58.1km | 5:39:00 | 223m
Cycling: 70.6km | 3:58:00 | 407m
Swimming: 1,000m | 35:33

Thoughts: Good first week considering the injury. Must focus more on the strength, conditioning and core work. Need to add in some intervals next week.

30th October – 5th November

Monday 30th October
Manage to sneak off work bang on time to make a rare appearance at Adidas Runners South to get in a bit of interval training. Running in the evening definitely feels unnatural to me!
Cycle Commuting: 17.3km (64 minutes)
Running: Intervals: Hill Repeats at Tower Bridge – very gentle gradient. Twinge in my right arch encouraged me to ease off. Manage 9. 4.7km | Time 41:57 | Av Pace: 8:46/km | Elev Gain: 70m

Tuesday 31st October
Work is stressful so commit to prioritising some hills before I pay the bills. Run commute over Primrose Hill to work. It’s glorious and takes about the same time as the tube! First double day – been told this is a good way to step up the time on feet while taking some of the stress off my body.
Running: 9.1km | Time: 50:36 | Av Pace: 5:30/km | Elev Gain: 58m
Running: 7.5km | Time: 41:38 | Av Pace: 5:31/km | Elev Gain: 54m

Wednesday 1st November
Want to focus on hills so commit to taking the tube so I can rest my legs for an evening session with AR Collective at Run Like Hells. Really pleased I make it. It’s hard doing laps of Primrose Hill but I feel strong. Manage 7 loops.
Running: 8.8km | Time: 48:12 | Av Pace: 5:27/km | Elev Gain: 187m

Thursday 2nd November
Legs are tired when I wake up so turn my long run plan in to a 1.2km run to catch the tube. Sunrise at Beigel Run is astounding.
Running: 9.4km | Time: 58:14 | Av Pace: 6:08/km | Elev Gain: 39m

Friday 3rd November
Adidas Runners is Active Recovery week – this week spinning. Man it’s hard!
Cycling: Spin class: 67 minutes

Saturday 4th November
In Norfolk for the weekend with some friends. Torrential weather but encouragement of some friendly running companions sees the long run happen. Try to run to parkrun but it’s further than we expect so arrive 16 minutes late and have to chase down the tail runner. Volunteers at Holkham parkrun as so friendly and we manage to sneak in before the tail runner. Holkham is surprisingly hilly!
Running: 20.2km | Time: 1:58:13 | Av Pace: 5:50/km | Elev Gain: 116m

Sunday 5th November
Lots of mileage this week so rest day to recover. Lot’s of skipping, kite flying and paddling in the sea.

Week Two Totals
Running: 61.3km | 6:05:00 | 532m
Cycling: 17.4km | 2:14:00 | 71m
Swimming: 1,000m | 35:33

Thoughts: Better running but worse cross training. Pleased with getting in some hill work. Next week want to find the time to keep up the cycling and a bit of swimming. Also going to try a longer long run next week.


  1. Double days definitely the way and longer back-to-backs when you get closer. I did a number of HM-ish run commutes. First with run home, eat, sleep and run back, and then run-work-run. Running home down the busway for 20k by headtorch after a tough day helps mentally and physically. My highest mileage weekend was marathon Saturday and marathon Sunday. I did then take Monday off!

    1. Thanks Paul! Yes I think finding some loopy routes to work so I can up the mileage on my way in and out is a good idea. How long was your Rat Race race?
      Double marathon sounds TERRIFYING!


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