Running the Dragon's Back - training

I am now approaching completion of 9 weeks of my Dragon's Back training plan devised by Dave Taylor. Initially I wondered how I could possibly fit it into my work and home life, but it proved easy to sort out priorities and ignore less compelling tasks and activities. Also, the plan was written by an expert and I have no reason but to stick to it religiously – no excuses and no cheating. Obviously, it demands a certain level of commitment and hard work, but I keep in mind the image of me running into Cardiff Castle across the finish line next year, to the echoes of a Welsh male voice choir, feeling utterly exhausted yet elated, met by family & friends, a mug of tea… dream on.

Chris running through local woods Chris running through local woods

The variety of training has been a revelation and really enjoyable – strides and hill reps, fartlek & interval training, technical descents, core and strength exercises, and of course the longer hilly weekend run. The most important message was that 80% of my training should be ‘easy’ with just short bursts of more intense effort. Apparently if I always operate in the grey area of medium effort or harder training, it would be counter-productive and lead to fatigue.

Dragon's Back training blog - training plan Week 5 & 6 of my training plan

The prospect of injury is ever-present and perhaps almost inevitable at some stage, but so far I have been able to manage slight niggles with ice and pain-killers, and have recognised the importance of rest days and easier weeks to allow for proper recovery.

Using fit-for-purpose equipment and clothing has become an important consideration, and clearly running shoes is top of the list. Like most people I weigh up the various cost, style and brand implications but I have to declare that I’m lucky enough to get staff discount and the occasional use of ‘demo’ equipment provided by manufacturers. It has to be remembered that not all equipment I use is currently available in the shop, usually because a particular model has been superseded by a more recent one.

Dragons' back training shoes Boreal Saurus, Inov-8 Roclite & Inov-8 Mudclaw Boreal Saurus, Inov-8 Roclite & Inov-8 Mudclaw

At the moment I have three pairs of running shoes to choose from: Boreal Saurus, Inov-8 Roclite and Inov-8 Mudclaw. NB: I have also just bought a pair of On Cloudventure running shoes and I will report on these another time.

My running shoes have all been used in a range of conditions, but each are more suited to particular types of terrain and weather.

Boreal Saurus
(demo pair)
INOV8 Roclite G275 INOV8 Mudclaw 300
Best for:
Road & forestry track Mixed terrain Technical & hilly
Hard, dry & flat Variety of surfaces Wet, muddy & uneven
Description: Cushioned sole & broader fit. Kind to joints. Similar tread to Roclite. General purpose but narrower fit and less cushioning than Saurus. Narrow fit & studded tread to enable confident & precise placement.

The choice of brands and models is staggering, but for me the most important consideration is fit and comfort. During the Dragon’s Back I will be on the go for up to 16 hours a day for 6 consecutive days, therefore looking after my feet will be paramount. I was certainly glad to take advantage of the unrivalled knowledge of our Boot Room staff to get the best possible advice before buying.

Hopefully Blog#3 will come at a time when I will be free to travel to Wales and begin the process of recceing the route.

2 thoughts on “Running the Dragon's Back - training”

  • Mark Lindsay

    Hi Chris, I'm also training for the DBR 2021 and have employed the help of a coach, Marcus Scotney. I've enjoyed reading your blogs and can relate to it all. Rest, Injury, work/life balance is all key. I've got similar feelings about the distance as you stated in Oct, despite also completing various multi-stage events such as the OMM, Saraha race and Gobi March with Racing the Planet. That said, that was 10+ years ago when I was still in the Army so brute force and ignorance were at play there! Nowadays, it's slightly different as I'm approaching 50 and have not had the same level of activity since leaving the Army in 2013. So, as much as I'd love to take my fitness levels fo 10 years ago for granted again, I've opted for more of a structured one using the experience of others and my own to prepare. I'm about 3 months into my training and yet to get to the hills. I live in Surrey so most of my runs are in local woods, canals and MOD training areas, so I need to do a recce and get some hill time in the legs as well. I'm planning to walk the whole route in Apr/May with my wife (COVID permitting). Keep the blogs coming and I look forward to reading the next episode! Cheers Mark

    • Chris Harle

      Hi Mark, thanks for your post. It's good to know that there are other DBR runners out there in a similar position. Sounds like you have the background, experience and will power to succeed, so I wish you luck with your preparations. By the way I have just found out about the immense hill you have in Surrey. A few times up and down Leith Hill will have to do for now!
      I will write blog#3 in the next couple of weeks...

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