Ultra-Trail Runner: Oliver Stenning Guest Post

Ultra-Trail Runner: Oliver Stenning Guest Post

Balancing the demands of a career in Banking, with my passion of running (and logging high mile training weeks!) can often be challenging.

Oliver Stenning

Oliver Stenning

As an ultra-trail runner living in London, specificity in training can be difficult to replicate, especially when races often last 20+ hours across technical mountain terrain. I rely upon the UK trails on the weekends, infrequent trips to the big mountains in Europe and my local gym (both for weights and the dreaded treadmill hills) to prepare for long mountain ultras.

Having recently recovered from Transgrancanaria at the beginning of March, a 128km ultra-marathon crossing the entire length of Gran Canaria, including 7,500m of positive elevation gain (and the same amount of descent), I am now back into the full swing of training. I was really pleased with home my legs recovered from the race, in such a short period of time, helped of course by OOFOS recovery sandals!

My upcoming races are Lavaredo Ultra Trail* (Dolomites, Italy) and the TDS race (one of the UTMB events) – the TDS boasting 9,200m of vertical gain over an extremely technical 145k route around Mont Blanc and the alps of Switzerland, Italy and France.


The lockdown imposed in the UK due to Coronavirus has restricted my access to hilly UK trails, to gym equipment and a treadmill with an incline setting and also means only one run per day!

I’ve had to adapt my training, working with my coach, to ensure I’m continuing to build strength and endurance. With improvised home gym equipment (a towel, resistance bands and a chair) and a positive mindset, I’ve noticed some surprising results over the first week of my new routine – some of my observations include;

Broaden training

I’ve incorporated yoga into my daily routine (great for tight hip flexors from sitting down for longer periods of time WFH), as well as some indoor cycling to replace the double run days .

Positive mindset (also really important in ultra-running!)

I have found it a useful tool to focus my energy on what extra things I can do as opposed to what I can no longer do (such as travel to mountains!) .

Home strength and conditioning

90% of my strength work at home relies on body weight alone (I use resistance bands for the other 10%). A chair is a great tool for building leg strength – step ups, Bulgarian squats, single leg squats (into chair), high knee toe taps, drop off and jumps – there are so many exercises that you can do that will help to improve stability and strength. Home workouts are also a great opportunity to reconnect with friends, to share work-outs over video calls and to build confidence in the exercises you perform in the comfort of your own home – there is some great content online if you’re struggling for inspiration! I’ve also been able to up the frequency of S&C from 2 days per week in my last training block to 3 days.

One exercise per day

From the yoga I have been doing, it’s taught me to really think about the why, particularly helping me to focus my thoughts when I’m outside on my daily run. Stripped back to basics, we’re learning to appreciate life; the importance of staying connected, being active and we’re also reminded of equality.

Finally – FOOD

I’ve really enjoyed using the additional time to get creative in the kitchen. I follow a plant-based diet and with the limited food I’ve been able to buy from the supermarkets, it’s taught me to be more creative with my recipes. Again, some excellent food vlogs providing endless inspiration, albeit yielding some good and bad results!

Reflecting back on my first week on my new training routine, I’ve already noticed an improvement in my muscle strength home workouts, my ability to recover quickly from hard running workouts (due to better quality nutrition and also from the yoga) and mentally I’m more determined than ever and even more appreciative of the joyfulness running outside brings.

Please reach out if you want to chat anything about running, training, home-gym workouts or cooking – it’s important humanity remains connected and support each other!

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*Lavaredo Ultra Trail have since announced the 2020 edition is being cancelled – so I’m excited to set new goals and challenges to work towards; a new opportunity is created.

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