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Robbie Britton is one of the UK’s leading ultra runners – and a Profeet ambassador.  He has been living in Chamonix in the French Alps for the last couple of years.

 

He is currently preparing for the 2016 CCC ultramarathon – a 101km trail race with over 6000m of vertical ascent – and one of the five UTMB races.

 

We recently caught up with him to find out how his training was going:

It’s 18 months since we moved to the Alps and finally it feels like it’s paying off in my running. 

 

Building up to the 2016 CCC around the Italian, Swiss and French Alps has involved a lot of hard work one of my weaknesses, something that is a large part of mountain running: going uphill.

 

Focus on running uphill

 

Last summer we worked on the whole package, uphill, downhill, running at altitude and generally being a mountain man.

 

It was an important building block, but when it came to racing, one part of my running wasn’t strong enough and that was the uphill. 

 

Not quite built the same as the tiny mountain goats you see at European races, and more suited to flat, looped 24hr courses, I wasn’t going to let that get in the way of what I want to achieve. Spring and summer 2016 was going to be all about the vertical.

10,000m of vertical per week

 

The aim for July was to try and get 10,000m of vertical gain each week, to make sure that the improvements came from going uphill, again and again and again.

 

It became a bit of an obsession to hit the target, but with UTMB recces at the start and end of the month I knew there was 10,000m there for the taking to kick things off.

 

Add in the 3600m of Trail du Velan, a UTMB recce with British internationals Tom Owens & Andy Symonds, plus plenty of sessions that involved running up to the lift and jumping a ride back down and it almost seemed possible to get to such a target with my body still intact.

 

The first 7 days of July actually had 12,500m of climbing in there!

 

Quantity over quality?

 

As the month went on, with the first 2 weeks well over 10,000m and a race coming in the third, I started to wonder if the rule of “quality over quantity” was being forgotten in the search for vert.

 

Was it worthwhile getting a 1500m climb in each day instead of doing a hill session with 500m? What was going to be more beneficial?

Topping the podium

 

With Trail du Velan approaching the decision was made to focus on what was more important, the quality of my uphill work.

 

There were a couple of shorter sessions and a rest day in race week, just to make sure that the test in Saturday was done properly.

 

The race went extremely well, hitting my A target of under 6 hours and staying comfortable throughout, eating, drinking and moving well on all gradients, even on the countless sections of boulders we had to hop across.

 

Even the final downhill, something the had been neglected a little this summer, was run with gusto and great success. I didn’t smash any more teeth out of my mouth.

A chance to test the CCC kit

 

It was a fine day for running and a good chance to practice with the kit that would be used on race day for the CCC.

 

A winter of cross country skiing meant my arms were strong with the poles, the Salewa Train Lite shoes were spot on for the grip and protection that was needed, without weighing in the heavyweight division.

 

There is one more race before the CCC, the super fast Thyon-Dixenne, which is 16km and all at altitude, and then Nats and I are spending a short time training at altitude before Natalie’s ‘holiday’ in Aosta (the 330km Tor de Geants).

 

Training is still all going to plan and there will be a few thousand metres more before we get to race day.

Aiming for the top ten in the CCC

 

The goal for CCC is to put all the training to good work and not waste an opportunity to get into the top ten.

 

Who turns up on race day and the weather is not something I can control, but how well I go is what is important. Being able to run well on the first climb, whilst staying comfortable, is the aim and then finishing strong. It’s all about finishing strong.

 

Choosing the right kit this year has been important. Shoes (Salewa Train Lite), socks (Stance Run), Shorts (Adidas or Salomon), the trusty Profeet vest, Poles (Black Diamond or Swix) and a whole other host of tried and tested kit will fit into a Salomon 3l Pack for race day.

 

It’s all been tested on long runs and fast runs so I won’t be making the same mistake as last year, that’s for sure.

Patience, consistency and dedication

 

Ultimately it’s all been about three things; Patience, Consistency and dedication to a cause.

 

Everyone wants a quick solution and immediate results in this day and age, but, as with most things in life, you have to work hard and be patient and the change you want will happen.

 

There is still a long way to go on my journey, wherever it will end up, but this summer feels like a big step has been taken in the right direction.

 

We wish Robbie all the best for the race and the rest of the summer.

For help with your own running, whatever distance, this is what you can expect at a Profeet run assessment:


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