AVT is heading out to Chamonix this Thursday to join the all-singing, running, dancing and beer drinking Circus that is UTMB week. He will be running the CCC race which starts in the Italian town of Courmayeur before finishing some 101km later in Chamonix. Yes the CCC is termed the ‘little sister of the UTMB’ however if you are/have a little sister then you will know all too well that whilst small, they are fierce!
Of the 1900 starters at the CCC this year, we would be willing to bet that AVT might just shake up the front end of this race. With an 18th place finish on the E101 Ultra Trail in July in a time of 13hours 53minutes combined with a summer of solid training, innate talent, the ability to push the pace when times are tough and one cool persona we can’t wait to see what Friday brings. Of course, AVT has his own goals, targets and wildest dream scenarios, but that’s up to him to share. What we don’t doubt is that he will play it out by running a strong, smart and gutsy race right to the finish line.
AVT - training, course collecting and eating up the hills
Shaping up for a CCC shakedown | By MTD Athlete Alex Van Tuyl
The CCC is billed as the “little sister” of the UTMB, which I personally feel is something of a disservice to a race that is 60 miles with over 6000 meters of climbing in it. Having collected the requisite points, and made it through the draw, I will be lining up in the little town of Courmayeur on the 30th August ready to spend most of the day running around the Mont Blanc Massif, and trying not to have too many tantrums along the way.
The training for a race like CCC is half the battle, especially living in the very flat, and very urban environment that is London. My training necessitates a lot of travel, a good dose of optimism that hills really aren’t that bad, and a few novel ways of finding altitude. Below are a few tips for how I have prepared for the CCC, although I am not sure I really feel that ready…
AVT one the right of the image. Finishing a jaunt of the Maverick TRIBE Marathon route.
ONE - All about the base – If one is going to run sixty miles, then one needs a good base level of fitness is required. Sadly doing one-half marathon 2 months before the race probably is not going to cut it. My solution was to spend three and a half days running across Corsica in order to get in some serious distance and elevation. However, I am personally a big believer in consistent miles rather than sporadic monster training sessions that leave you broken for days afterwards. With a race like CCC building out a good training plan is critical to make sure that you are getting the time on your feet.
TWO - Gym monkey – Running is a lovely sport, it really is, but if you want to run 60 mountainous miles, I would highly recommend a Strength and Conditioning programme to go alongside the running. I was injured for the first four months of this year and thus forced to spend hours in the gym doing weird balance exercises and re-discovering what core strength meant, all of which now I am reaping the benefits of. There are loads of guides online for runners so I have taken a mix and match approach to what I do, but balance exercises and big compound movements like squats and deadlifts have really helped. And don’t panic about putting too much weight on by doing strength training, if you are running a lot I promise that you won't gain any unnecessary muscle mass.
THREE - Cross-train – Just to fill up all that spare time in the week when you aren’t working, running, in the gym or buying new trainers. Running on its own is a quick way to an injury….mix it up with biking , swimming, or roller skating. Personally, I don’t think it really matters what you do, as long as it is fun, and gets the heart rate up to help with cardiovascular fitness. Cycling often gets the best reviews as the ideal complement to running, plus you get to spin around dressed up as a spandex bandit. In the build-up to CCC, I have mixed in a lot of cycling with my running and have found it lets me target key running sessions with fresher legs. My fitness has benefited hugely as have my joints. Although be warned ….bikes steal your money, literally all of it….you will be broke.
Holidays are for hills. Hills are the holiday.
FOUR - Hills – If you are going to race in the Alps, it’s a safe bet you will be running uphill a significant amount; it's probably best to practice. There isn’t really a secret to this, although, do not forget to practice running down the hills too . Downhill running, with its eccentric loading, will tear your quads apart. Post-race DOMS, that’s the downhill running for you! My hunt for the hills has taken me to Snowdon, the Lakes, the Peaks, the Carpathian Mountains, Corsica, Dorset. Holidays are more fun with hills anyway right?
FIVE - When the fun stops, you stop (or at least think about mixing it up) – Like most people, I train and race alongside a full-time job, an attempted social life, and juggling all the other facets of a “normal” life. I run because it’s fun and because it takes me to some amazing places. Whilst I totally get the need for training, and sometimes you do have to suffer, I think it is key to keep the bigger picture in mind. If you are dreading each session, or too tired to ever go and see your mates then change something; go cycling, takes some time off, bake a cake. All of my best runs have not been when I am in the best possible shape, but when I have been enjoying my running, and actually want to go and run. For me, the mental part of the sport has always been much more important, and a much bigger determinant of performance than my physical fitness. So “running happy” or whatever else you want to call it is something I would highly recommend. The hurt locker can be a great place to be on occasion and also an essential one, but running on cloud nine is perhaps a little bit better.
SIX - Get the appropriate swag – If you are going to run 60 miles, then you had better look good doing it.