One week to go... - Women's Running Magazine

One week to go…

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  September 4, 2015

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With less than a week to go until the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run, we need to concede that we’ve done as much as we can or, to be honest, we’ve done what we’ve done and there’s no time for more! Resisting the urge to squeeze in a few extra miles or hills, we’re resting up and getting organised. Our thoughts are turning to packing for the event and reflecting on our training over the past few months.

Training – it’s all about the hills!

For the last few months we’ve been training apart, with Jamie in Scotland and Carrie in the French Alps. Having a buddy on long runs makes the miles pass much more easily, with good chat and laughs one mightn’t expect with tired legs, sore feet and (often in Scotland) simultaneous bog and headwind! We do some of our best adventure-planning on runs together, so have certainly been missing that. Fortunately, the ultrarunning community is small and close so we’ve had numerous other friends to keep us company and motivate us!

Jamie, fresh off training for a successful West Highland Way Race in June (95 miles across rugged Scottish terrain), has been getting plenty of hill training in the Lake District. In July she attempted to complete a “Bob Graham Round” (an epic 24 hour challenge in the Lake District covering 42 peaks, over 8000 metres of climbing and 68 miles) – unfortunately the “summer” weather wasn’t playing ball and the mission had to be aborted, but not before she’d been on her feet a whopping 22 hours! Aiming for a return attempt later this year, the July outing can certainly still count as a quad-bashing training for the TransAlps! She has also been doing reps of Ben Lomond, a 974m Munro close to home – to incredulous looks of hikers out for the day!

Jamie at Whangie Aug 2015

Carrie has been living in Chamonix for the summer, in the hopes of becoming slightly more mountain-goat-esque ahead of the race. Her main focus has been on ascent – not difficult to find in the French Alps! A typical week of peak training has been around 140km with at least 5000m of height gain – split over hill reps, steady running and a long (around 40km) run at the weekend. That’s made for some very sore legs and a huge appetite for post-run baguette and cheese! She also had a great four day trip out on the Ultra-Tour Du Mont Blanc (UTMB) course with some friends. This epic route (and bucket list race) circumnavigates Mont Blanc, over 170km and almost 10,000m of hills. Ouch! Absolutely stunning and highly recommended as a backpacking adventure, making use of the mountain refuges on the way to allow for travelling light.

Carrie-training-with-friends2

Kit – If our training doesn’t work, at least we’ll look the part!

We’ve both learned from experience (painfully at times!) that the right kit is hugely important for both comfort and safety on long outings in the mountains. Forums and Facebook are awash with discussions over the best pair of shoes, GPS, jackets…the list goes on. While we know that the right pair of shoes won’t transform us into mountain gazelles (although decent grip is essential), if we can reach the finish with a few blisters and at least most of our toenails, that’s a success for us. These are a few of our tried and tested items that we will be packing for eight days of mountain running…

Waterproof jacket – we are both using the Gore Air GT AS again this year. While there are smaller and lighter jackets out there (some of which really do look like wearing coloured cling film), we will be crossing high mountainous terrain, so the few extra grams of weight are worth it if the weather closes in.

Running packs – these have come a long way over the last few years and we both swear by our race vests (Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra and Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0). Yup, they are pricey, but compared to the jiggling, neck-chafing rucksacks we previously used, we think they’re worth it. We also prefer having water bottles/flasks on the front of the pack for easy filling at aid stations and snacks always accessible!

Running kit – we’ve both been training in kit from Gore Running Wear. The Air Lady Shirt is great in really nice soft fabric – although pale blue perhaps wasn’t the wisest choice for hot weather (certainly shows up any, err ‘glowing’ pretty quickly!) – fortunately we also have the Magnitude 2.0 Lady Zip shirt in a more forgiving black, too. The Air Lady Shorts and Magnitude Lady Skort will also feature – it’s taken us a while to accept that running in a skirt is not only ok but surprisingly practical! And for those women who want to know about the underside of our long-distance running, Jamie swears by Patagonia (undies) and LuluLemon (sports bra) to stay chafe-free where it matters most!

We’ll also be carrying a long sleeve warmer layer (Icebreaker and SmartWool Merinos), long tights (2XU compression – also useful for sleeping in!), gloves, hat/Buff and (fingers crossed) a sun visor and sunglasses.

Shoes – ahhh, shoe choice. We found the Salomon Speedcross 3 GTX ideal for the mud and trail conditions last year. They aren’t the best on wet rock, so we’ll pack some Inov-8 Roclite GTX, too.

Poles – Deemed in some races as ‘cheating sticks’, most competitors in the TAR will have them (including us) and they really do help give some boost on the looooong climbs and some knee/quad protection on the rough descents. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles are very lightweight and easy to fold and stow on the flat sections (assuming there are any…).

Running watch – for the data geeks in us, it’s nice to know how far we’ve come and how much of a hill remains! Carrie has the Suunto Ambit 2; Jamie has Carrie. Carrie is also a little bit addicted to Strava so you can also follow our journey there….

First aid, etc. – Our packing lists include Compeed Blister Plasters; Sudocrem; Vaseline; RockTape; and BioFreeze gel. With foam rollers being left at home, we’ll be packing tennis balls for massage in the evenings. We will also be braving an ice bath each day in an attempt to speed up recovery – but when we say “ice bath”, we really mean getting into the nearest water fountain, rarely clean or glamorous, but effective!

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So – all set! We’ll be rendezvousing at Munich Airport later this week with the start line of the GoreTex Transalpine Run in our sights; fingers crossed that by the end of Day eight we’re intact, successful Finishers.

Women's Running Magazine

NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

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