My Journey back to UTMB — equipment

February Training Recap

Urgh. This was not how February was supposed to go. After a really good January I had high hopes for this month. I planned to do lots of VO2max training, to really build the engine for the endurance work later in the year. It did not go to plan. I hurt my foot on the second day. I tried to rest it for a couple of days and come back…this did not work. I ended up having to take a whole week off. Then I got a horrendous cold, and then the UK had what seemed like two weeks of never ending storms. Mixed with a ridiculously busy work schedule and yeah, not ideal.

An image my pace during a run. Spikes in pace for the fast bits.

What equipment will I be taking?

So this blog post is one for the running gear junkies as I’m going to lay out what equipment I’ll be using in August. Some things may change, but likely not much. In my first blog I talked about how having the right equipment, rather than the ‘best’ equipment for an ultra is such an important aspect. Find what works for you. So this is what I think is best for me.

  • Mobile phone (smartphone strongly recommended): Personal beaker 15 cl minimum (bottles or flasks with lids are not accepted)
  • 2 working torches with
  • Survival blanket & Whistle
  • Self-adhering elastic bandage for bandaging or strapping (minimum 100 cm x 6 cm)
  • Food reserve
  • Jacket with hood for bad weather in the mountains. The jacket must be made of a waterproof* and breathable** membrane (eg. Outdry)
  • Long-legged trousers or race leggings OR a combination of leggings and socks to cover the legs completely
  • Cap or bandana or Buff®
  • Additional warm second layer: a warm second layer top with long sleeves (excluding cotton)
  • Hat
  • Warm and water-proof gloves
  • Waterproof overpants

Head

I pretty much always wear a cap for running as sunburn on this head is not a good thing. I’ve tried a lot of caps. Recently I’ve gone for specific running caps, as they are lighter and don’t retain sweat as much. I’m going with the Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat. I love it. It’s so light, and you can jam it into a pack and it just pops out back to shape.

Picture of the Duckbill Trucker Hat
A very worn polartec Buff — I think it was green once upon a time

Face

Sunglasses. Obviously to look cool, but honestly the amount of eye strain if its a sunny day and you don’t have them is debilitating. I’ll be wearing these ShadyRays. Yes that is actually a brand. They are polarising, fairly light, durable and replaceable financially…..I have lost A LOT of sunglasses in races.

Body

I used to run in the free technical t shirts you got from races. I sort of assumed they were all the same. They are not. I will be wearing a patagonia base layer. They are not cheap, but they are brilliant and also I just fucking love the ethos of Patagonia. CLothing has been artificially cheap for too long…..if something is cheap financially then it is costing somewhere, either environmentally or ethically. I have a few patagonia base layers now including the brilliant Airchaser which is so good for warm weather.

Picture of the Mountain Equipment Switch Vest
Picture of the Podium waterproof showing it is very see through

Hands

I’ll be taking some lightweight grippy gloves as general running gloves. Nothing worse than cold hands when running and I suffer from that a lot. I’ll also be taking some sealskin insulated mittens for emergencies or if the nights are cold. These are bloody brilliant gloves.

Legs

For shorts I’ll most likely be wearing these Flyte 2–1 running shorts. I certainly didn’t pay £80 for them. From what I can tell they look like they are inspired(!) by the Rockay 2–1 shorts which are about £80. They are comfy, and what I really love is the stuff pockets on your legs. These can take quite a bit of stuff you need to hand, so food, or phone, or gloves/buff you’ve taken off and don’t want to put into the pack at the minute. I’ve got some salomon 2–1 trail shorts, which are comfy but don’t have these stuff pockets.

Feet

First socks, lots of them. There are few things in life better than fresh socks in the middle of a tough ultra. I have learned to always have spares with me and in drop bags. I like merino socks. There are all sorts of brands, rockay are good, but basically lightweight merino socks that fit.

Some WildCross shoes which were blue but are now just mud coloured

Pack

I’ll be using the Ultimate Direction AK3.0. Its a good pack with lots of space but also comfy. Not as comfy as the Salomon packs, but some good features including waterproof pockets and good stash pockets. It’s served me well and has a spot for both a bladder and bottles which is important for my hydration strategy (which I’ll talk about in another blog)

Picture of the AK 3.0 running pack in yellow and red

Head torch

Alpkit qark. It’s great, rechargeable and also takes normal batteries. 580 lumens of blinding light.

Poles

Black Diamond distance Z poles. They aren’t the carbon ones which are more expensive and a little bit lighter, but they work well and can be opened with gloves on which I think is important.

March training

So with February not quite going to plan, I’ll be using some of March to continue focusing on VO2Max sessions, with a few threshold sessions thrown in. I’ve got a trail marathon (ish) in the lakes on 18th March which will be a nice little bump in the training. It’s a loop of Ullswater ran by NAV4 who do some lovely low-key events which I highly recommend, although I hope they don’t get too popular! Looking forward to it.

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Tom C W

Tom C W

Do Good, Be Awesome. Thoughts on startups, social change, awesome things, and possibly running.