The Monthly Mileage: Aug 2018 - A Journey To A World Record Attempt

What is the Monthly Mileage? 

This is the first in a regular series where I’ll be giving you an insight into my training as I prepare for my world record running challenge in May 2019.

I’ll include stats that cover my running and nutrition, plus any major events, like races.

To make it useful for you, the ‘top tips’ section will include a summary of what you can learn from my successes (and failures!).

I’ll also throw in any funny or awkward moments.

Warning - those moments will often involve dodgy bowel movements... 


What Were My Running Highlights for August?

In August, I ran a total of 397km (247 miles).

My biggest achievement was completing my first ever 100 mile race - the North Downs Way 100.

My goals for the race were purely to focus on getting the organisation and logistics correct. And I wasn’t focused on the result at all. 

I even said to my coach, Mimi Anderson, and sports psychologist, Evie Serventi, that I would be happy with coming within 1 second inside the cut-off.

So I was incredibly pleased with my result - 4th place in 18 hours 53 minutes.

 My longest run in August was the  North Downs 100 Mile Race , where I came in 4th place

My longest run in August was the North Downs 100 Mile Race, where I came in 4th place

But I should have been on the podium.

Stupidly, I took a wrong turn 1 mile from the finish and got overtaken.

Despite sprinting desperately, I couldn’t catch 3rd place and ended up less than 1 minute behind him.

The race was incredibly well organised, run by Centurion, who have a number of other events.

A huge thank you has to go to all the volunteers who supported us runners. 

The enthusiasm and encouragement they gave was unbelievable. Especially when you consider they were standing for hours on end in the blistering heat. 

Although a bigger shout out has to go to the people who supported me during the event:

  • Catherine - My unbelievably dedicated wife, who came out to most of the checkpoints in the second half of the race. With a 1 year old baby. And who was even there for a 1am finish.

  • Cynthia - My unbelievably dedicated mother-in-law, who was also there throughout the second half of the race. Cynthia drove Catherine and Lottie across a large amount of the South-East of England! And also made it for the 1am finish.

  • Lottie - My unbelievably dedicated 1 year old. Every time I saw her, she was smiling hugely. And even she made it to the 1am finish!

  • Rosie - My 3 year old daughter, who sent an amazing video message of support, which lifted my spirits at around mile 70!

  • The Gould Family - Who looked after Rosie and gave her an amazing day whilst I was selfishly running around the country.

  • Evie Serventi - My sports psychologist who turned up to a checkpoint unexpectedly to provide support.

  • Ben Cooper, Jack Donaldson and Jamie Riddett - For sending through some very entertaining notes that lifted my spirits when I was feeling at my lowest.

 Here I am enjoying a slice of watermelon, whilst Cynthia, my mother-in-law feeds Lottie.   I couldn't have wished for a better support team  - Cynthia, Lottie and Catherine (who took the picture), were unbelievable throughout the entire North Downs Way 100 mile race.  One of my  'top tips' is to make sure that you have a strong team  with you for these type of events. They're actually more important than you!

Here I am enjoying a slice of watermelon, whilst Cynthia, my mother-in-law feeds Lottie.

I couldn't have wished for a better support team - Cynthia, Lottie and Catherine (who took the picture), were unbelievable throughout the entire North Downs Way 100 mile race.

One of my 'top tips' is to make sure that you have a strong team with you for these type of events. They're actually more important than you!

 Without that group, I wouldn’t have been able to perform anywhere near as well.  

It made me realise how important your team are for these type of events. Perhaps even more important than the runner!

And so one of my top tips is to make sure you have an incredibly strong support team in place for these events

Following the race, I felt very sorry for myself and had a complete rest period for 9 days.

And my big toe definitely needed it...

 My feet were in a pretty bad way after the North Downs Way 100 mile race. Although that isn't the biggest blood blister I've had from running!

My feet were in a pretty bad way after the North Downs Way 100 mile race. Although that isn't the biggest blood blister I've had from running!

A perfectly timed family holiday meant that I swapped my usual running commute along the muddy banks of the River Thames for the crystal clear waters in Corfu.

And then shortly after that, I went to Harrogate where I met this fellow runner who seemed to have hit the ‘wall’.  

Scarecrow with a bin bag covering him head and details of my run - 25km in 2 hours - for JamesRunsFar.jpg

I’ve only got one ‘top tip’ from my time in Harrogate - Don’t have half a bottle of red wine and chilli the night before a 5am run...

I won’t say any more. And I don’t have any pictures either...

The month ended on a high with a 37k run around Richmond Park with some hill repeats thrown in. All before work.

Depressingly, it was the first time that I noticed it was turning to Autumn. 

But beautiful sunrises, and glorious picture opportunities for Instagram, are the positive side of the seasons changing.

 There are some benefits to getting up at 5am to go for a 37k run in Richmond Park before work - Amazing sunrises on the trails are one of them

There are some benefits to getting up at 5am to go for a 37k run in Richmond Park before work - Amazing sunrises on the trails are one of them

I also added some strength and conditioning to my training plan after more than a year off.

So I’m finally following my own advice that every runner should incorporate it into their routine!

For inspiration, below is my new workout. With videos for the exercises I'm doing.

I do 3 sets of each of these with fairly high reps (12 - 15). And I do the third set until I can't do any more.

Although I've neglected weight and core work for a long time, I have been doing yoga regularly.

And I have noticed the positive impact on my running and general fitness.

If you’re a runner you will almost certainly be the least flexible person in the class.

But it’s definitely worth the discomfort of desperately holding in farts for 45 minutes whilst you bend in ways you never knew your body could...


How Much Crap Did I Eat in August?

Those of you who have had the pleasure to dine with me know that I have some weird eating habits.

Weird Habit #1 - I use my knife and fork the wrong way round.

Although I believe that if you’re right handed, you should have your fork in your right hand...

Weird Habit #2 - I am on the Keto diet

This diet means that I eat very few carbs and lots and lots of fat.

Which sounds great at first, because you can imagine sitting around constantly eating mars bars and milkshakes.

But it’s surprising how many carbs are in everything that tastes good.

I'll write more about the Keto diet in another post, including how I apply it for ultra-running

And I'll give you some tips if you’re thinking about trying it out. Or if you are trying it out, but finding it difficult.

So sign up with your email to get updated when that comes out so that you don't miss it.

Plus, by signing up, you’ll get a FREE training plan template.

The template will save you time, money and effort when creating your own training plan.

Weird Habit #3 - I track everything I eat using an app

The app is embarrassingly called FatSecret

But it has been my secret for how I’ve controlled some of my poor eating and drinking habits over the past 18 months.

I use it mainly to make sure that I’m getting a high percentage of fats and low carbs. 

But the app has made me a lot more conscious of the volume of the food I’m eating

For example, it’s a lot harder to have that extra helping of dessert when you’re faced with being told that it’s 500 calories. 

And it’s even harder to eat it when you know you have to go to the effort of putting it into your food tracking app! 

It’s because of FatSecret that I know that:

  • I ate 102,000 calories in August and burned 101,000

  • I averaged around 3,300 per day for each.

  • My calorie breakdown was 58% fat, 18% carbs and 24% protein - For context, ‘normal’ recommendations for a person’s diet are for around 45-65% of carbs.

  • On 4th August I consumed a massive 5,000 calories and lost 12,000 - Although this was because I ran the 100 mile North Downs Way Race

 In August, 58% of my calories were from fat, 18% were from carbs and 24% were from protein

In August, 58% of my calories were from fat, 18% were from carbs and 24% were from protein


What Are My Top Tips? 

1) Get A Strong Support Team (and thank them!)

Having a team that is fully behind you can be the difference between a good performance and a great performance.

Or it can be the difference between a finish and a DNF (did not finish).

This is especially true for longer distance events.

Your support team will probably need to make sacrifices in the race itself.

But they will also make sacrifices to help you prepare for the event. For example, whilst you're training for the event for hours on end.

The team around you is just as important, if not more important, than you are.

And it's important that they know how appreciative you are of their help. Something which I'm sure I haven't done enough of, but will be making sure I try to in future!

2) Include Some Form of Strength & Conditioning

It could be yoga.

Or it could be more traditional weight lifting or core work.

But including these elements in your training plan will make you a much better overall runner, triathlete or endurance athlete.

3) Track Your Calories

Getting an app to track your food intake can be a massive eye-opener to your poor eating habits  

FatSecret has worked well for me, but there are plenty of others out there.

Doing it properly does take some time and effort, initially.

But you start to learn things about your diet very quickly. And then it becomes very easy to change things for the better.

4) Be Careful About What You Eat and Drink Before Workouts

What you eat before a workout has a massive impact on performance (as I found out in Harrogate!)

So when it comes to your key races, you should know exactly what your body reacts well to.

And you shouldn’t be testing anything new in the lead up to race day, or on race day itself.

During training is the time to test new foods and drinks to understand how they impact your body.

Because if something negative happens in training, it doesn't matter anywhere near as it would do on race day.


What’s Coming Up in September?

September is going to be a busy month!

From a training point of view, I’ll be ramping up mileage significantly as I prepare for the Autumn 100 mile race on October 13th.

My biggest planned runs include a weekend of running 50k on the Saturday and 35k on the Sunday.

Plus, it’s a month of celebrations in the Williams household.  

Which means I’ll be trying to balance the heavier training with...

  • My eldest daughter, Rosie’s, 4th birthday

  • A friend’s wedding

  • Our second wedding anniversary

  • My birthday

So Septmeber’s Monthly Mileage may give you tips on how to balance heavy training and a personal life. 


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