Brennan Townsend first headed out onto the trails just two years ago. Since then he has fallen in love with exploring the mountain wilderness of his home terrain, the Cumbrian Lakes. This passion for the outdoors and his obvious talent for running up, down and around mountains is clearly shown in his fast growing catalogue of race wins. While too long to list in this blog it includes The Garmin Mourne Skyline in 2018 & 2019, the latter of which he set a course record, the Brecon Beacons 50k trail race & the Three Peaks Fell Race. Brennan also finished 2018 as the Skyrunning UK series champion.
We feel very privileged to have Brennan as one of our Ambassadors and are thankful that he has given us his time to answer some of our questions on what it takes to master the mountains.
Longhaul: Congratulations on your recent course record at the Mourne Skyline! Breaking a course record is a fantastic achievement, one which most of us can only dream of. What aspects of your preparations do you think were key to this great result?
Brennan: Many thanks! For me it has to be consistency. Consistency not only with training but also with other important components: fuelling, hydrating, sleeping and recovery. I am also lucky enough to live in the mountains, which gives me the perfect terrain to train on.
Longhaul: Perfecting a training plan can often be confusing for those new to trail running. Reflecting on your training plan, what is your weekly mileage & how do you balance distance and speed sessions?
Brennan: I run between 120-160km per week mixing between speed sessions and longer runs. The longest run in the weeks leading up to the Mourne Skyline would normally have been 35km but I ran some longer back to back days in the alps with my partner Kat which were around 50km. I usually aim to run one 25-30km run on a Wednesday and a 35-45km run on a Sunday.
Longhaul: What are your top-tips to help a fellow runner prepare for race day?
Brennan: It is important to build your fitness steadily as too much too soon can often lead to injury. Spend as much time as possible training on the terrain you are going to be racing on. If it is a mountain race try to train in the mountains whenever you can. Finally, invest in some high-quality nutrition, like Longhaul, as it will keep you in a positive energy balance for those longer sessions in the hills.
Longhaul: What was your pre-race meal and do you have any nutritional tips for the week leading up to a race?
Brennan: I have porridge with seeds and fruit or jam on toast before racing. I don’t change anything in the week prior to a race. As I said earlier, consistency is key to me and I try to stick to my normal healthy diet at all times, especially when racing but even when not.
Longhaul: Do you head into a race with a fuelling plan or do you just eat as and when?
Brennan: Although you always have to be prepared for things to change as a race develops, I think it is important to head into a race with a fuelling plan. For longer races, those over 3 hrs, I eat a Longhaul sachet at 1hr and 2hr with a couple of gels in between.
Longhaul: Fuelling during a race is important but so is staying hydrated. What is your approach to race day hydration?
Brennan: I try and run as light as possible if it’s not to hot and pick up water on the route, so 2x250ml soft flasks with electrolyte and refill on the move.
Longhaul: Reflecting back on the race are there any lesson you learnt from your course record at Mourne that could help other runners achieve their race day goals?
Brennan: I would definitely recommend to recce the race course to get to know the route as well as you can. This helped me in Ireland, as I knew exactly how much food I needed and where to push in the race.
Longhaul: Thank you so much Brennan!
As well as being a Longhaul Ambassador Brennan is a running coach. To find out more about working with him visit www.brennantownshend.com/coaching
You can follow Brennan’s adventures via Twitter: @bren_townshend