Less than 6 months to go until the ultra-marathon.
I know in that time I am going to have to put a lot of training in. Having started my new role in work as well I am going to have to train smart as work is going to be very busy.
I’ve put in a very good weeks training last week and am pleased with the progress I am making – I’ve added some more strength work into the programme as this is going to be important. I’ve started to think more critically about my nutrition plan for the event as well – there are no feed stations along the event so I need to be fully self-sufficient during the day. I’ve already purchased a rather smart race vest/pack which has a drinks bladder in it, pockets for gels, bars and additional drinks bottles and thankfully space for my trusty MP3 player.
The new MP3 was also a recent purchase – 4GB of space and 17 hours battery life – ideal for those long training runs and the event itself. I’ve currently uploaded 470 tracks onto it and it is a real mixed bag – Killing Joke, Tool, The Prodigy, Jah Wobble, Fleetwood Mac, Motorhead, Black Flag, Fugazi, Public Enemy, Pink Floyd, The Fall, Iron Maiden, Bad Brains, Johnny Cash, The Cult, Cockney Rejects, and a ton of other stuff.
I’d actually be lost without running with the MP3 on. It just helps me to switch off and keeps me focused. Keeping focused on those longer runs is going to be really important – especially on those 3 hour runs which can turn into a bit of a slog and a bit of a mind-games battle.
I know from past experience in events that there are going to be those mental dips or lows – when you start to question whether you need to stop, need to slow down, worrying that a very slight niggle might be that dreaded injury that you just don’t need. It is really important to be able to shut those thoughts away and focus on moving forwards. It is important to be able to focus on those next couple of steps, the next mile, getting to the next lamp-post – rather than thinking of the enormity of it just breaking it down into much smaller chunks.
My strategy for the actual event is going to be getting to each bridge on the event – not thinking solely on the finish line but breaking it down into much smaller, more achievable targets.
There are around 20 bridges to pass (and go over) during the event – so 20 smaller, more achievable targets. That also works out well when planning my nutrition strategy – I will have a much better idea of when I need to be getting those essential fluids into me, needing to be taking on board energy gels and energy bars as well.
The kit I use and wear on the day of the event is going to be important and I have a very good idea of what I will be using already on the day. I have the kit already – a few trips to Decathlon has sorted that out and no doubt a few more between now and the event will be made (mainly for additional pairs of running socks). The plan is to wear the kit I will be wearing on the day on my longer runs – not only does that pre-planning help with any potential mistakes but it will also help with that focus as well. It will really home in on the target.
The weather on the day is going to be a major factor. If it is hot will I use an energy drink mix or an electrolyte mix? Headwear – running cap or visor?
if it is raining do I need to take spare socks to change into at some point? (it may be that one small thing I do that could reduce blisters perhaps).
So very much some of the training in the lead up to the event just isn’t about putting the miles in but getting the nutrition correct and using the correct kit for both the event and conditions. On the day this fine detailed planning could be the difference between a well-executed race and one that leaves many questions around preparation.
This week marks the end of an era in work as I leave one role and begin another – I’ve been delivering induction courses in work since 2014 and in my new role will no longer be doing this. It is going to be strange because of a lot of colleagues (many of whom I’ve trained) know me as the person who does the induction course.
On Wednesday I finished my last ever induction course and as I reflected on how the course had gone I had a sense that I had drawn a line under that part of my career – no looking back, no going back. My new role is going to challenge me and really put my skills and knowledge to the test – that is good. It is going to take me out of my comfort zone – that is good. It is going to push me – that is good. I’ve been given two projects to get on with straight away and I’m determined to set a high benchmark for myself straight away – I’ll look at it and think what would make it better and then look at it again and think what will make it much better – that marginal gain element.
I knew 2019 was the year I needed to push myself, challenge myself, and really get out of my comfort zone. I’ve always felt the need to challenge myself and push myself. I’ve never been one to sit back and accept it for how it is. I’ve always asked the questions around what are my limits, what am I really capable of if I try that little bit harder.
Some people look at me and probably think I’m not very ambitious or driven. The thing is I’m never one to shout out about that (I shout at myself inwards about it). In my down time, such as having a few beers with friends for example, I’d rather have a good laugh than be serious all the time – that is why I see it as my down time. This is the time when I blow off a bit of steam but it doesn’t mean I’m not ambitious or driven anymore.
So today is St Valentine’s Day – not that it means a great deal to me. I actually think it is a manufactured load of rubbish. But hey I’m single so why would I care anyway!!!
Single through choice. I’m alone but I don’t feel lonely. Over the last week I’ve thought about what being single actually means to me. I set my own agenda and it isn’t based upon what someone else thinks or what they expect from me. I’m not confined or pressurised into the expectations of someone else – I’m not being viewed or judged on what I should be or what I should be saying or asking. I don’t get let down and if I do it is only by myself and I learn from that and I build upwards from that.
I’ve been in relationships where on the one hand the other person has said I don’t need to change anything and on the other tries to change things about me. What is that all about!!!! If you feel the need to change that person should you even be with them in the first place – the answer to that has to be a big fat NO. If you are happy in yourself why change for someone – that change is obviously based upon their own insecurities and issues and probably means they have a fear of changing themselves so it is easier to give someone else the hard time and get them to change you instead. Leave them behind and continue being you and being the best you.
I’ve been thinking of what drives me and what makes me determined to complete things over the last couple of days. One of those things is when people doubt me and almost due to their own negative outlook want to tar me with this and say, ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘you won’t do that’. Big mistake really as I’ve been told that so many times in my life that now I just find it hilarious – it is like a gauntlet has been thrown down at my feet and I can’t resist picking it up straight away to prove that person so wrong.
Years ago I was looking at entering a triathlon – it was a sport that had always fascinated me and there wasn’t a great deal of information out there about the sport (we are talking back in the dark ages when the internet didn’t exist and it was a very, very grassroots sport in the UK at the time) and I told someone about this and they told me – ‘you won’t do that, way too difficult, you won’t even get to the start line let alone finish’. I was not impressed. I finished that race (it was only a short sprint distance race) and went on to finish many more over the years – multiple half ironman distance races, 4 ironman distance races, 9 marathons, and raced for Great Britain in my age group in a European Long-Distance Championships – all the time I remembered that person who had said to me ‘you won’t’.
In work about 5 years ago I applied for a different role, got to interview and felt it was an ok interview and I had given some good examples of the work I had done and was capable of. I wasn’t successful and one of the reasons given was I hadn’t evidenced enough managerial ability when I felt I had.
I eventually moved roles and was determined to prove that manager wrong – I worked hard as a manager and then started delivering a managerial and leadership course where the manager actually got their staff to attend the course as it would be good for their development and it was felt they needed to become better managers – Oh! The irony!!!! Now I’m about to move into a role to design and develop managerial and leadership courses!
The one thing I have always been is driven and determined. I may go through spells in my life where my mental health is low and I feel depressed, I may feel like life has knocked me down but it has never knocked me out and I have always got up and always dug in deep and gone on to better things. 47 years undefeated.
I have a tendency to look at myself and say this is just not working or this is not good enough and ask myself what is ‘much better’ – they are not pipe dreams and fanciful ideas but things I know I can achieve.
At times I am brutally hard on myself because I know what I am capable of if I am driven and determined to do so. When people say to things like ‘I’m going to be honest and you may not like what is said’ is so weak to me as I have probably done that tenfold at every minor detail myself as I look towards ‘much better’.
So last year when I hit a real low and was knocked down again that drive and determination was there once more. Yet again I have proved to those who doubt that I am still undefeated, I am stronger, I am harder, and I still possess that drive and determination.
In my last blog entry I wrote about taking risks and challenging convention. I also wrote about making mistakes and it being part of the learning process.
Within my training I try to apply this and like with any well thought out plan you have a certain level of control on how this is applied – there are some unknowns involved in that as well and also some uncontrollable elements as well (weather and terrain for example).
Devising an effective training plan requires placing lots of small steps in place over a set amount of time to reach a much bigger goal – it is also a learning curve as well and mistakes will be made along the way and it is how that learning is applied so those mistakes do not become habit and are part of the norm leading to overall poor performance, lack of motivation and losing sight of that much bigger goal.
As you may also recall from the last blog entry I decide to take risks and challenge convention by going out on a date with someone I was seeing last year – in doing so I felt I was breaking one of my golden rules – never go out with someone you’ve previously split up with. It was a really good evening and it was fantastic to speak to each other positively about things we had achieved since we last saw each other and what plans we had for the future.
On Wednesday morning I was feeling very optimistic that if there was a plan in place and we took those small steps then that bigger goal was more than achievable. Wednesday afternoon I was feeling deflated after receiving a text from my date – she had also had a fantastic evening, felt that there was still a major spark there and was somewhat optimistic as well but was very hesitant due to the fact I hadn’t spoken about one particular topic and that put question marks over whether there was indeed any future.
To receive that at work by text was a bit of a body blow really – I would much rather have dealt with that issue/concern over the phone or face to face and expressed this in my reply.
Things then escalated and became slightly argumentative and I felt that all the positives of that evening had been brushed aside and was being replaced with a negative and I was suddenly under the microscope.
We had not seen each other for months and my main focus that evening was to see how we got on and whether there was any possibility of a second date – nothing more, nothing less – and I felt this was a more than reasonable expectation. A second date would have included conversation about the topic I hadn’t spoken about on the first – I’m certain of it – and had it not then maybe a text of that kind I received would have been more than justified.
Instead I’ve put the barriers back up, there will be no second date, and I feel that it may well have been a mistake to have broken my golden rule in the first place. I spent yesterday evening licking my wounds a bit, feeling upset and hurt and retreating back into myself which was not good considering how I had felt that morning.
This morning I’ve looked at what I am now considering a mistake and rather than seeing myself as a failure have looked at what I have learnt from the experience instead and how I move on from this. Instead of the ‘what ifs’ I used to ask in the past I took risk, challenged my normal conventional way of thinking but it hasn’t worked – that doesn’t matter though because I gave it a go and I felt I had shown that evening I was a changed person (and for the better).
I gave something a go, it didn’t work, I’ve learnt some things, and because of that I don’t see that as failure but progress in myself. As far as any future dating is concerned – I think I’ll give it a very, very, very wide berth and concentrate on the new job and training.
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.