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Jez Bragg's 2013 UTMB Training - Part 4

by Editor
Wednesday 21st August 2013

'Boring, repetitive and rather uninspiring' - so why does Jez Bragg do his annual Snowdon reps session?

On the face of it, there’s not a huge amount to say about my annual Snowdon ‘reps’ session of last weekend. Up and down 5 times; 3 on Friday night, 2 on Saturday morning. Yawn. It’s very much on the opposite end of the scale to the rest of my training – boring, repetitive and rather uninspiring.

Jez Bragg's 2013 UTMB Training - Part 4

So why do I do it? Well it’s ideal training and terrain for UTMB - 1,000m of vertical ascent on well formed, runnable, trails - ideal for getting the all important climbing and descending into the legs ready for you-know-what. There’s no magic formula to UTMB, but it’s important to be able to withstand repetitive long climbs and descents, of which there are around 10 over the course of 168km. UTMB training has to be full on to get yourself strong, but at the same time it’s a case of treading the line, trying hard not to over step the mark and accumulate any long lasting fatigue. Easier said than done.

I did mix up the paths a little bit, using both the Watkins and Llanberis routes. They are the best two, having the most vertical height gain – simple as that. The Friday late afternoon start was designed to replicate the UTMB start time and good in the sense that it was quiet and I could get some well needed head space. Not surprisingly there weren’t too many people walking up Snowdon at 7pm on a Friday night. Better things to do perhaps?

The only drama came when I realised I had dropped my iPhone somewhere on the mountain. It was rather frustrating because, aside from the annoyance of losing the phone itself, I had become rather attached to it after it had survived the whole run down New Zealand with me. It gave me something to think about at least, like where it possibly could have fallen out, or which of the handful people I had passed may have picked it up.  I did try searching the likely locations – but to no avail. It had been sacrificed to the Snowdon gods – aquapac and all. If I do well at UTMB this year, I am sure I will be able to live with it.

I’m not going to pretend I enjoyed the whole experience. I didn’t. After Friday night’s frustration, Saturday morning wasn’t much better – the mountain trails packed with summer holiday makers trying to bag the highest peak in England and Wales. So probably not worth dwelling any more – job done – move on!

So session complete and into the final three week build-up to UTMB. It’s taper time. I tend to errr on the side of caution with my UTMB taper, mainly because the pace is so much slower, and losing sharpness is not so much of a worry, but being as strong as you possibly can, really is. The training has been tough, so the time to recover and get to optimum pre-race strength is inevitably longer. With no more long days out, there's more time to tinker with kit and get my head into the race. Mental preparation is definitely a very important part of the process, and with the route fresh in my mind from recently being on the course, I can play through how I plan to run the race in my head. We’ll be flying out a week before the race allowing time to relax and catch up on some rest before the big day.

I really am getting excited about getting back into some racing, and drawing upon some of my physical and mental strength accumulated during my endurance training over the winter!


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