As ultra runners we are truly obsessed with getting miles in as we focus on a target race. But of course we ultra runners need to run big miles and sometimes those big miles just need to be run at whatever pace you can do them in. But, you tempt yourself into that potentially ever declining circle of running at the same pace and getting slower and slower. What is required? A sharp injection of a different type of running that will freshen up and pimp your ride.

I am training for Comrades, yeah I’ve said it publicly now! There is a great deal of road running involved with this one, in fact all of it, you don’t say. I originally came from a road marathon background and then found ultras and the love of trails, so naturally I gravitated to running most of my miles off road. What’s wrong with that I hear you say? Well, if truth be told, that along with the steady ageing process, that I can’t do anything about, had made me a slower runner. I had neglected to do anything about it as my focus had been miles and having fun on the trails.

Like seeing a long lost first love of your life, I have rekindled a love of road running. There is simplicity in this form of running. You only need a limited amount of gear – running shoes, shorts and shirt, no backpacks, no head-torch, no compulsory gear and no trail shoes. To my surprise it’s like exploring again. In the same way that I found a love of trails and that ‘what’s round the corner’ surprise, I’ve come to enjoy and explore the environment and roads around where I live. True, I tend to only go out very early in the morning so the roads are empty of cars and people – but it’s truly reawakened my view of road running.

I’m back with a vengeance. I am running lots of road miles, seeking out hills and long climbs, pounding down hills trashing my quads and churning out interval sessions. I’m having a lot of fun just running on road and I’ve got faster. And do you know what I threw in the other day to liven it all up? – a trail run – and it just felt truly wonderful exploring something that I had not seen for quite a while.

Do something different with your running, enter a different type of race, train somewhere different, throw in a new type of session – just remember you can always go back to what you love but you might find something else that you love just as much. Happy running!

All images copyright – Ian Campbell Photography


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