Another mixed week but better than the previous week as I look back and reflect on it.
I’m starting to get more into a routine with things which is helping a lot and actually planning my days and weeks a lot better. I’m finding that with some structure attached to my weeks I am not spending as much time feeling frustrated and bored which leads me to get even more frustrated with myself to the point where I become very defeated.
I’ve completed my first 4 weeks of training for the ultra and the motivation is increasing with every session I complete. I’m pleased that I have been consistent and haven’t lost focus. Obviously having a goal that has taken me well out of my comfort zone has helped a lot with that.
The last few runs I’ve done I’ve noticed that I am completely switching off and am just focused on putting one foot in front of the other – it is a fantastic feeling and gives me a break from all the other stuff I am normally dealing with.
I’m actually looking forward to when I start the longer runs of 2-3 hours in a couple of months time.
Since I have decided that I am not going to place any expectations on myself for the ultra except getting to the finish line I have found that I am enjoying training a lot more. I’m just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and am not worried about how fast I run the last mile, how quickly I got to a certain point compared to the last time I ran that route, or how many miles I’ve run.
I’m starting to realise slowly that I need to apply this to other areas of my life as well. A lot of the time I place huge expectations on myself and if I don’t achieve certain things then I am really hard on myself – this, I am starting to realise is very self-destructive.
I know that when I start looking at things in a self-destructive way my confidence and self-esteem take a rapid nose-dive and those feelings of not being good enough are almost like a tidal-wave that engulfs me.
I need to start taking the same approach with my life that I am with my training – no expectations and just keeping putting one foot in front of the other and I will reach my destination.
Peaks and Troughs!
Hi and as always thanks for reading.
The last week has been a bit strange, probably best described as peaks and troughs really.
I’m starting to get some routine back into my life again which is a real positive.
Work has been frustrating this week as it looks like we are going to go through yet another restructure of the national team I am in – only a year after they did the last one. The term if it isn’t broke then why does it need fixing certainly springs to mind.
Thursday was a certainly a trough day – from the moment I woke up I just felt negative about everything and I just couldn’t snap out of it no matter what I did or said to myself. I guess I am going to have days like that on this journey and I just need to acknowledge that and get through.
The training has gone really well this week – 3 runs and I’m slowly upping the mileage (and time) which is certainly a step in the right direction. I’ve also added some core strength sessions into my training as well – this is something I never did in the past due to time and not really seeing the benefits of it (plus when I was training for triathlons I was doing a lot of swimming and cycling anyway). One of the benefits I am hoping to see is it will help prevent any injuries - this is going to be key when training for an ultra-marathon.
I’ve read some really interesting articles this week about some elite ultra-distance runners who suffer from mental health issues as well and how running helps them overcome their challenges. It made me reflect quite a lot on how I am feeling and what I am doing to overcome my own personal challenges.
Thursday I went for a run and really had to force myself out of the door – however once I got out there and started to focus on what I was doing I felt a bit better. I also ran on a slightly different route which I had never been on before which made it a bit more interesting. Also running along the sea-front on a coastal path is pretty good as well.
One of the things that has always held me back in life I feel is self-doubt and a lack of self-confidence a lot of the time. I look at certain things or situations and feel that I am not good enough. Again I feel that this is about not wanting to get out of my comfort zone at times. A lot of the time I am really hard on myself and very self-critical feeling I should be better or should be doing more – over time this begins to eat away at me and feeds on the self-doubt and self-confidence.
I’ve started to realise that training for an ultra-marathon is going to help with this. For a start the only expectations I’ve put on myself are to do the training and get to the finish line – nothing more, nothing less. I’ve run 9 marathons in the past and by trying to make a comparison to my times and my fitness levels from over 10 years ago is unrealistic so I need to focus only on what is ahead of me and not what is behind me.
By training and entering the event I am taking myself well out of my comfort zone – 26.2 miles is the furthest I’ve ever raced (or ran). In Ironman distance triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) the longest I was out on the course was 13 hours 30 minutes.
I need to look at the training differently now and setting realistic targets along the way – it isn’t just about the miles run or the time am I out training as that is only a small part of it. I need to look at diet, lifestyle, resting (and not getting frustrated with myself as I tell myself I am being lazy – which I am prone to doing), and making sure I am mentally strong as well. Being physically strong is really important but the mind quits quicker than the body. I need to be strong to be able to control the self-doubt and lack of confidence and not just whilst I train but also in the rest of my life as well.
Correlation and Vulnerability!
Welcome to my second blog entry and as always thanks for reading.
It has certainly been an interesting and busy week. I had a GP appointment on Monday to speak about my mental health issues and that went pretty OK – I know that I have a long road ahead and it is not going to be easy or a quick fix. I have acknowledged that many of the things I need to do or change are not going to happen overnight and that it is going to be one step at a time.
In many ways it mirrors the approach that I am taking with my training for the Richmond Ultra and how I will need to approach the event itself.
I know I need to put the training in and there are going to be times when I am just not in the mood to do it but I know that consistency is key – usually when I am in that frame of mind and I get out of the door once I get going I am fine. I know that every run I do is not going to be perfect and I am going to have some sessions where I wonder why I bothered at all.
There is a correlation here with my mental issues at the moment – there are certainly going to be days when I just can’t face doing certain things or being around people or there are going to be days when I just wonder why I am even bothering at all – however it is all part of the same journey really.
I know what the end goals are and it is good to have them in mind but I try not to focus on them all the time, instead I am concentrating on all the steps needed to get to there.
I have started a little mantra when I am out running to help me focus – ‘one step, another step, then another step’ – with each step forward I feel I am getting closer to my goals.
As I said in my previous blog entry I am target/goal driven and this week I have set myself some small goals to achieve – I need to eat more healthily for starters. Training for an ultra is not going to be easy and a belly full of beer and a chicken biryani every night just doesn’t work for me. So I have started being a bit more disciplined with my diet – again one small step.
I’m a creature of habit a lot of the time and have started to ask whether this is more to do with me not wanting to remove myself from my comfort zone. It got me thinking and I came to the conclusion that if I feel I am out of my comfort zone there is a certain level of vulnerability associated with that and with vulnerability comes uncertainty and risk.
By training for an ultra I am certainly well out of my comfort zone and there is a huge amount of uncertainty and risk involved – have I bitten off more than I can chew? Maybe but I will only find out on the day of the Richmond Ultra.
What happens if I get injured and the setbacks involved? I may get injured or I may not – if I plan my training correctly than I minimise the risk of that happening and if I realise my limitations and don’t over-train then that risk minimises further.
What happens if I lose motivation? That may well happen but I need to look at it as small steps all the time – every step is a step closer to reaching the end target.
I need to acknowledge that there are going to be setbacks on this journey and those setbacks will be taking me out of my comfort zone and present levels of vulnerability but I need to tackle them one step at a time.
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.