This year, I have continued the project that I started last year with James Elson from Centurion Running, looking at various aspects of ultra running and how these relate to a runner's ability to complete the race. I still think that there is lots of interesting information to be mined from these data, and hopefully more people will take part in the surveys for the next few races. Anyway, below is the report that I produced for the 2013 Thames Path 100 mile race in its entirety. As ever, these are merely my own interpretations of the data, but I would love to hear from anyone that might have any alternative ideas. I hope that you find it interesting!
Following on from last year's pilot project at the South Downs Way 100 mile race (SDW100) last year, we have now upgraded the analysis to look at all four of the Centurion Running 100 mile events in 2013. The current state of research into the factors that may affect a runner's ability to complete a 100 mile event is still very open, with several key studies beginning to delve into the key factors essential for all runners to consider.
The research of Martin Hoffman and the rest of the Western States Endurance Run Research Committee has produced several key papers, analysing both the effects of running 100 miles on the body, as well as the demographics of the runners who choose to run such events. Recently, the Ultrarunners Longitudinal TRAcking (ULTRA) study from Stanford University (which I recommend everybody takes part in if they haven't already by going to https://stanfordmedicine.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_aY1e47DdzVRjHKI) has begun to track a wide range of information for ultrarunners, which will then be tracked over the coming years with the hope of monitoring training styles and observing how these relate to injury rates.
Recently, more and more researchers have aligned themselves with race directors in order to obtain data on ultrarunners in the field. For many races, this may allow the study not only of runners' preferences and training styles, but also the study of the changes in physiology brought about as a result of running 100 miles. These studies will undoubtedly direct our current understanding of "optimum" training methods in order to ensure that running styles are tailored to specific physiological needs. Whilst I personally do not believe that there is such a thing as "the right way to train" (it is likely highly dependent on individuals), there are certainly universal truths that we can all benefit from fully understanding.
Our own study was a fairly simple yet powerful approach. We asked runners of the SDW100 to complete a pre-race survey (focussing on information on the runners themselves and normal training strategies) and a post-race survey (focussing on their approach to the race and how the race itself went for them), and combined these data with split times throughout the race. There were several goals with these data, but the main goals were to understand what sort of people typically take part in such events, what sort of training strategies are typically used, and how these relate to race-day performance.
In 2013, we will be performing these analyses on all four of the Centurion Running 100 mile races; the Thames Path 100, the South Downs Way 100, the North Downs Way 100, and the Winter 100. At the end of the year, we will combine these data into a single analysis to get a view of how runners have approached the different races through the year. These analyses are only possible because of volunteers choosing to take part in the surveys. But the more people who take part, the more interesting the findings will be. I hope that these results will encourage people to take part in the future studies and that we will soon have a deep pool of data to mine for interesting results.
On a personal note, my time for performing these analyses has been drastically reduced due to the birth of my gorgeous little girl. She's strong on her feet already so I'm sure she'll be a runner like Daddy! But unfortunately she also seems to have my lung capacity and ability to cope with no sleep... But I hope that you find what I have managed to cobble together between feeds interesting! These are entire my own opinions, but if you have any thoughts or comments feel free to contact me through my blog at constantforwardmotion.blogspot.com. As ever, all the best to everybody with your running, and I'll see you out on the trails!