low mileage ultra training with my new hip

Some nine months after having my right hip replaced due to Lyme’s disease fast-tracking a genetic weakness in the joint and once again, I am enjoying my running so much. Recovery is going much better than I could have hoped, so I have signed up to run my first ultra on my new hip at the end of May and I cannot wait 😊

Race the Tide 21st May 2022

Race the Tide has three distances to choose from:

  • Long marathon which is almost 29 miles of glorious tracks and trails
  • Long half-marathon of 15.5 miles
  • Watery Woodland trail of 8.5 miles

The three routes follow private footpaths, the South West Coast Path, bridle paths, fields, and Woodland. I’ll be doing the long marathon which incorporates the South West Coast Path on both sides of the estuary including a beach section at Bigbury-on-Sea and a run across the causeway to the privately owned Burgh Island.

Experimenting with low mpw (miles per week) training

I am conscious that my ceramic hip has a finite shelf-life and will wear out if I return to 50+ mpw, so my plan is to run ultras with as low a weekly mileage as possible, supplemented with endurance and strength cross-training. So, I am experimenting with how low (in terms of mpw) I can go and will adjust accordingly. This could be a work in progress ……

Recovery so far

Cycling benchmark. My peak power is now on par with my pre-op benchmark of 460W. The Wattbike provides power data balance from each leg. This shows that I am now consistently generating 48-49% power through the new hip, whereas only 42% of the power was being generated from the right leg prior to the op. It really feels lovely and reassuring when strong data, fact and evidence supports how good you feel.

Running benchmark. My average weekly running mileage since January has been less than 20, with one week in January topping out at 33, which felt fine. What really provides confidence is the re-gained fun descending rocky, gnarly trail slopes which for the last two years have required a good deal of focus with careful foot placement and a gentle pace. My pace on the shorter runs is back to my best efforts.

Credit here goes to the physios and their advice to walk as much as possibly immediately after the operation and leaving the crutch at home as soon as I felt comfortable and confident to do so. Which for me was after 17 days. And then embracing the cycling and the rowing, gently at first whilst being very careful not to bend the right knee more than 90 degrees during those early months.

Cross Training. My cross training has consisted of weekly kettlebell sessions; mostly goblet squats; swings; some ab work and weighted steps. Plus at least one hour-long row each week on my WaterRower plus of course the indoor cycling on the Wattbike. 

Putting on my socks!

Professor Hart joked with me before the op that once I could confidently and comfortably stand on my operated leg unaided and change my sock, then I would be doing well. And each morning (it’s early spring here so socks are still required) I now put on my socks without a second thought. Pre-op, standing only on my ‘injured’ leg was a painful experience.

Next steps

My plan is to increase my weekly average to 25 mpw with three or four ‘peak’ weeks at 33-35 miles between now and the event in May and to continue with the cross-training at existing levels and intensity. The physios were very keen for me to squat and build my glutes and to lift some good weights and this is something I will add to my training early summer. Then 21st May, Race the tide, Mothecombe, South Devon and I will post here how the event goes for me. I won’t call it a race, simply finishing will be a big success. 

Longer term goal

My longer term goal is to secure enough points to enter the CCC, which is part of the UTMB race series and covers 100km with 6100+m elevation. I have some unfinished business and would love to cross the finish line in Chamonix having been timed out at Trient back in 2018, you can read my experience of the event here.

In the meantime, take care and as always, happy running


Header image courtesy of Race the Tide

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