Ultra-runner Max Willcocks won the Thames Path 100 in 2015 and currently holds the record for furthest distance run on a treadmill in 12 hours at a whopping 93.47 miles. In 2016, he is entering the Sierra Leone Marathon and the TNF Lavaredo Ultra Trail, a 62 mile, 5,500m ascent of the Italian Dolomites.
For all things endurance he’s your man.
His track sessions are varied, one day he’ll set off to do 400 metres, 50 seconds rest and the next he’ll plug his headphones in and run an “easy” (his words) 16 miles.
To you and me running 64 laps of the track is almost absurd but for Max “running without interruption, obstruction or deviation is my therapy. It’s as close as I can get to running with my eyes closed.”
With an almost euphoria he explains, “the best thing about track running is that each and every stride is exactly how you want it. You never have to worry about where you’re putting your feet – only that you’re still moving them.”
So how does he do it?
“With the correct music and attitude” and the knowledge that time spent on the track corrects your mind-set for racing. The mental resilience needed to remember “that physically you may not be going anywhere, but metaphorically you’re building on all the right metrics to achieving your goals.”
It’s always good, however, to have a series of benchmark sessions that you’re familiar with so you can check up on your performance.
His toughest benchmark session is a flat out 2400 metres, or 6 laps; “it’s gloriously painful but a great indicator of fitness and threshold capability, as you try to maintain a constant speed each lap.”
To build up to a tempo mile focus on one session a week of:
400 metres, 2 minutes x10
Or, another way of looking at it is running a lap every 2 minutes. The time that you don’t use from those two minutes is your rest period.
Ultimately, the faster you run, the more rest you get by working harder.