Training for Spine Challenger 2014 pt1

Training for the Spine Challenger 2015  pt 1 

I get asked a lot about my training and preparation for when I set the course record of 29 hours 1mins for the 108 mile Spine Challenger in January this year, although due to injury it wasn’t the best preparation for my first 100 mile Ultra. This year, as I aim to be a lot fitter and better prepared for the demands of such a challenging course, I thought I would share some of my training and preparation for the event on the 10th January 2015.

My training for the 2014 race hadn’t gone to plan due to someone running a shopping trolley into me in an ASDA store in the October 2013 which resulted in an achilles bursitis which took seven weeks of rest to clear up.

Training for the Spine Challenger didn’t start till 17th November 2013. Seven weeks of training and one week to taper was not ideal preparation for my first 100 mile race. Here are the weekly totals of the training I did for the race:

Week ending

Sun 24th Nov   26 miles

Sun 1st Dec      60 miles

Sun 8th             38 miles

Sun 15th           60 miles

Sun 22nd          32 miles

Sun 29th           45 miles

Sun 5th Jan       44 miles

Sun 11th           18 miles (plus 108miles)

TOTAL          431 (including Spine Challenger)

Normally training for an ultra I aim for around 70-90 miles (8-12hrs) a week so I knew I was starting the Spine Challenger not in the best shape for running 108 miles. It showed as I began to fatigue after 35 miles and the last 16 miles of the race took 5 hours as I struggled with my left hip flexor.

For the up and coming Spine Challenger 2015 I have embarked on a 13 week trail running training program, with over 14 training runs on the Pennine Way, varying from 20-30 miles max, during the program and at least 3-4 of the 10-12 sessions each week in the dark. Training in the dark is invaluable for the Spine Challenger as I spent 15 hours of running in the dark through the night. I will do one hill session a week of varying length from 1 mins to 15 mins of climbing and one fartlek or progression run a week.

The training program started on the 6th October (the day I turned 40), it didn’t start well as my partner Jen and I had planned to run the Yorkshire Three Peaks as my birthday outing but unfortunately we had to abort the run before we got up onto Pen-y-Ghent due to high winds and driving rain.

Thankfully the rest of the training during October has gone a lot better:

6th – 31st October

238 miles – 35 hours

8947m of ascent

94 miles (6 runs) of the 238miles have been along the Pennine Way they have mainly been out and back runs and one of them, Malham to Gargrave and back, was at night.

I haven’t started training with my full Spine kit yet instead I have been carrying about 1.5kg of essential kit for long runs. I won’t start training with my full Spine kit till December.

I hope your running is going well whether you are training for the Spine or for any other events you are training for, of if you are just getting out there and hitting the trail.

Photos courtesy of Sportsunday events photography and Jen Regan

Chasing the dream.


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