Ultramarathon runner and Freespirit PT Andi sheds light on event preparation.

 “Bend your knees!”

 In contrast to the other ultra marathon runners I know, I am not what might be termed a “high mileage athlete.”  My weekly mileage in training for a 100 mile event typically peaking at around 50 miles as I choose instead to supplement running with other activities. These activities include pilates, yoga and a little resistance work. I admit that I also lean on my 25 years of running experience and my completion of almost 100 marathon and ultra marathons. 

However, even given this, my last month of training in preparation for the Thames Path 100 (the first of three ultramarathons that I have planned for May) has not been great. So as we prepared for our first family ski holiday at the beginning of April,  I was somewhat occupied with a heady mix of panic, anxiety, dread and reluctance! How could I ski when I needed to run? What if I got injured?  Even the smallest injury causing just a week off could now curtail my race plans which lead me to thinking, should I just stay at home?

Well, shortly after a frank discussion with my wife and indeed myself, we were off!  My trail shoes were packed and I planned to mix up my skiing with some running and perhaps even a little snow shoeing.  And whilst the mountains of Courchevel were not perhaps the ‘specifity in training’ that I would normally advocate (my first event is along the very flat Thames Path –  a little over 100 miles from Richmond to Oxford), it is running/moving! And, more importantly, I would be a part of our first family ski trip.

Me and my two kids 🙂

So, back at home now and running along the canal this morning, I took some time to reflect, not only on the amazing week we had as a family in the beautiful mountains, but also on how I now felt regarding my preparation. 

 I had managed a short run almost every day, and wow- what runs! As well as skiing and partaking in all family activities and on reflection, I truly believe that I now feel even better prepared: mentally and physically refreshed and restored! For me, there is nothing like mountains and trees to lift the spirits and revitalise the soul – and now, even more excited for the first Saturday in May and my trip along the Thames.

Breathtaking views from my alpine training jaunts.

So what have I learnt?  Honestly, and without sounding smug, nothing that I didn’t maybe already know. But it was good to be reminded that training and preparing for an event, particularly perhaps an event of the type I favour, is not just about banging out the miles. It is also about achieving a balance in all areas of your life – family, friends and work. 

I know that I would far rather line up at the start knowing that my family were there with me and supporting my somewhat crazy endeavours, rather than sat at home resenting an event that takes Daddy away every weekend and all weekend. And during the night, most likely around Streatley, when my stomach has gone south and I feel that I cannot run another step. I will not dwell on my ‘undertraining’ but instead lift my spirits with the memories of my children skiing down the slope alone for the first time and when I carried them across a small waterfall whilst on a beautiful and impromptu afternoon hike on the mountain.

So yes, as I ready myself to toe the line I am probably a little undertrained but better that, I believe, than overtrained, injured and unsupported.

Oh, and why ‘Bend the Knees’?  This is a phrase that I learnt from my time in the forces when the need to just crack on and do it was required, and was an instruction usually accompanied by some rather colourful adjectives! Now it is a mantra that I will sometimes repeat to myself when the going gets tough and even the most beautiful and wonderful memories fail!

I’ll post again after the event and let you know how it goes. Wishing you happiness and balance in life and all your endeavours.


Sound track for training: “Notus” by The Oh Hellos.

If you think Andi could help and inspire you on your running journey then please contact us to book in for a free consultation. 

Victoria Mairiaux-Jones

I'm a Personal Trainer dedicated to improving my clients health and fitness. I work with people of all ages and levels of fitness, across Leamington, Warwick and Warwickshire. Lose Weight and get fit with Free Spirit Fitness Culture.

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