I will start off today's post regarding the lack of writing these past few weeks. Since the Suffolk Fatass 67km run on April 1st I haven't run in any races and training has been pretty locked in maintenance mode so simply put I didn't have bugger all to talk about. Tomorrow however officially marks (for me at least) the start of 14 weeks of focused training as I build up to running the Centurion North Downs 100 mile race in August. I have never tackled a 100 miler before (longest race is 70 miles) and there are so many factors involved in successfully completing the distance that it's easy to overlook them especially as this is my first time. I won't pretend to know what all of the factors are are nor try to explain them all here as I would be wasting your precious time as there is so much material already out there in the public domain.
Physical training is of course essential in making the body stronger for any event you take on but there is a fine line with training and over training. Everybody is an experiment of one and in the ultra running world there is no one plan that fits all. The priority for myself is that I will arrive at the start line in the best possible shape I can be in and to be well rested going into that final week before the event.
The mental training stands out as the single most important factor in successfully finishing a 100 mile race or any other ultra distance race for that matter. I have learnt from the ultras that I have successfully finished that you cannot allow the pain or distance overwhelm you. I remember vividly at the Grimsthorpe 70 where I was left hobbling the last 10 miles during the early hours of the morning but I commanded my body to move forward. Perhaps this was irrational but in my mind unless I had been suffering from a broken bone, a dose of hypothermia or something equivalent I didn't even consider the notion of quitting. Relentless forward motion is a motto many people use and I stand by this as well. Run when you can and walk when needed but always stay moving and eventually you will cross the finish line.
When the sun goes down and the sleep monster slowly tries to suck the life out of me I know that I will need to take full control and persevere through those early hours of the morning. I know that motivation will probably be more key at this point than at any other time of the day so keeping the mind energised and occupied is the only way to stop negative thoughts from shutting the body down.
Now I know that despite all this said you can train hard, prepare mentally for it and still not finish successfully. However after reading many ultra runners 100 mile (or further) race reports there is but one common element that unites everyone of them in successfully coming through the darkest places of their minds and completing the race, heart and desire. These are things you cannot condition yourself to have. You either have them or you don't. Everyone of us
I leave you with a quote from the great Jedi Master Yoda that for me pretty much sums up the mental attitude required to complete this journey.
"Do or Do not. There is no try"