Race Simulations

I took the weekend for some race simulation two weeks out from the GOW100. How do you simulate a 100km trail race? The obvious answer would be to run a whole lot of kilometres over similar trails at around race pace. However, I didn't quite take that approach. I didn't think it was going to give me quite what I needed, and based on my training this year had too big a risk of leaving me flat for the real race. I didn't want to grind my body right down, but I needed to create ways to replicate some aspects to know how my body would respond and train the mind. Acclimation versus acclimatisation.

The simulation involved two days worth of work. On the first I day I went with the concept of condensing 12 or so hours into 3 hours 45 minutes. For gear and I wore my race kit, packed the race pack with all the mandatory gear (including the adverse weather kit) and used my race nutrition. I kept the opening pace at the same effort level I planned for race day and turns out my paces were spot on. Then I hit the hard trails in Plenty Gorge. There are many, many options in this area and I made a point of picking the steepest, mostly technical or generally the hardest option on each turn. I ran these  with effort forcing early fatigue into my legs. Once I could feel that quiver in my muscle I dropped back to 100km race level. Practicing the slower running. It really is different to the fast pace stuff. The extra ground contact time changes the loading through the legs especially when combined with a full pack. About three quarters the way in I changed my techniques to practice the style I may likely encounter in the latter sections. That slow, but forced continuous step after step that is only about relentless forward progress. Also I flipped into the power hiking style of walking for the hills and inclines. Overall I was surprised at how few kilometres I covered.

On the second day I was up early, and with a reduced food intake I was feeling somewhat depleted. This was 2.5 hours of practising the slower techniques. The higher cadence, almost shuffle to keep moving along with walking/hiking with speed. I haven't trained that for a while and at the start it was obvious I was out of touch. Fortunately the skills came back and I moved an 11:00/km down to 8:30/km for the equivalent effort level. It's definitely not good for the ego to see how few kilometres in the so-called 2.5 hour run go into the training log.

Am I ready? I hope so. I cannot really change my level now, but the simulations did remind me of the importance of using good technique for all types of running. Plus to be wary of certain styles of running early as I could easily smash my legs early on without realising. At least I have the information I need.


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