The final countdown

My nerves are starting to get to me. I just looked it up and my first mentioning of the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc date back to February 2013. Back then I mentioned it in the context of “dreams”. Now it’s about as real as it gets as I just noticed my race bib has been assigned. T minus 10 days.Still, I feel confident too. Looking back at the past year, I’ve done what it takes to make it to the finish alive and well. It all started with a bad note with the Achilles injury. I started running again somewhere mid-February, but I steered clear from races because I knew I’d have a hard time keeping my cool and gradually increasing my running, risking getting injured and having to start all over again. I did the short edition of Crêtes de Spa as a test and it went perfectly. A signal that all was well and I could run properly again. And then things went fast. Both in progress as in races. I broke records on shorter distances where- and whenever I ran. Still, a half marathon is not 168k trail run in the mountains

So I headed for the Ardennes. I headed for the Vosges. I ran the Ardennes Mega Trail. And when all those things went really well, I made a plan for my last month and stuck to it. The closest thing to a training schedule I’ve done in years:


July 22nd. T minus 37 days

It’s Wednesday and in UTMB preparation times, my week starts. However, after doing a 150k week, this is my rest week. I run about 80k this week. No pain, nowhere. Body seems to deal well with the 150k week. Things are good.

July 29th. T minus 30 days

First of 3 training weeks. I do 120k this week. I do 31k the first day, followed by a marathon the next day. With only 50k to go in 5 days, things are a bit more relaxed the next few days. I make sure to keep Tuesday free so my legs get some time to recover. Because they’ll need it.

August 5th. T minus 23 days

Week 2 of 3. The plan is to do 160k this week. I start with a marathon, but after a day at work and drinking way too little, I feel totally, totally empty afterwards. I basically fall into a chair and sit motionless for 10 minutes before I find the strength to have a shower. The plan to do another marathon on day 2 seems impossible, but somehow things are better the second day. 2 days down, halfway. I do a relax 10k run on Friday and finish off with two 35k runs on Saturday & Sunday. After a relax bicycle ride on Monday, I take Tuesday off so I can start the final week with fresh legs.

August 12th. T minus 16 days

The final week, and the hardest one too. The plan is to run 30k a day this week, every single day of this week. It’s up and downs, mostly because there are days when I just don’t feel like running the same roads again the day after day. Luckily, there’s the Zomergem run on Saturday. I have a hard time on Sunday, but Monday’s better again. I do the ski hill a few times and get home around 22h10. The only downside is that I have to get up at 5h30 the next day because I can’t run in the evening so I have to squeeze in my 30k’s before work. But with the finish in sight, the mind tends to get a bit stronger and I run my 30k under 2h15, fastest 30k of the week.

And now my work is pretty much done. 9 days until UTMB. 9 days in which I’ll mostly let the magical super-compensation do the work and eat ice cream! Life could be worse.


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