That is two months of 2021 ticked off.
In terms of training I’ve not missed a session this year, pretty good start. It has meant a change of routine, but I’m OK with that. It means getting up earlier a few times a week, but I’m OK with that also.
I’ve got around 17 weeks until I take part in the ultra. My training is going to plan so far. Saturday was my longest run so far in 2021 – 12.2 miles. I felt comfortable at that distance and the pace was on the money. The sessions are getting longer. Not just one session a week but an increase in all my run sessions. It means the alarm clock going off earlier, getting out for a run earlier, doing longer mileage and then getting back and starting work for the day – that suits me. As I’ve said in early blog entries this is just some short term ‘discomfort’ for a longer-term gain.
I enjoy the longer run sessions. They give me a chance to really work on both my physical and mental endurance. They provide a real test of patience as well – I’m feeling really good and feeling strong, then being able to hold the pace sensibly rather than hitting it too hard from the start and blowing out at half-way.
Physical endurance is important because I’m training my muscles and cardiovascular system to go further and further and being able to hold off fatigue. There may be times when my muscles are aching or the pace has dropped slightly, and it is having the endurance to complete the session that really counts. This is why it is important that I’m consistent with my training, why I need to take a no excuses, no quitting approach. I need to constantly be pushing myself that little bit further all the time.
Mental endurance is just as important. Mental endurance is training the mind not to quit; mental endurance is training the mind to cope with the demands of the physical training; mental endurance is training the mind to shut out the internal negative dialogue – ‘this is tougher than I thought, maybe quit and try again another day’, ‘the weather isn’t great, maybe call it a day’, ‘I can’t do this, it is too difficult’.
There are things I have no control over when I’m out running – weather conditions for example. One thing I have full control over is my mindset and how I’m using my mental endurance. Sometimes I just switch off totally when running, listening to music and moving along smoothly – ideal. Other times I’m having to dig a bit deeper and am constantly telling myself I’m not going to quit and how I can do this. The internal negative talk soon passes, and I find that if I start focusing on something else it passes even quicker.
Having that positive mindset is essential. I think about why I’m doing this every session and what it means, what achieving the end goal means to me? If I mentally crack on a run of 15-20k then what chance have I got of completing a run of 50k? If that happens then what doubts are going to set in for that overall goal? What doubts are going to be gnawing away on the next training session?
I read an interesting article recently that said when we do quit something difficult, we are usually only 40% done, and we’ve still got 60% left in us. It is our mind that has quit, not our ability. By enduring a bit more how close can we get to 100%? By shutting out that doubt what are we really capable of achieving?
Each time we push through that barrier of doubt our levels of endurance increase, next time you’ll go further, much further, as you know you can do it.
I love endurance training, I love the challenge of it. I love the fact that I need to push myself constantly. I love the physical and mental endurance aspect of it. As the mileage increases each week and the sessions are being ticked off I know I’m getting closer and closer to the finish line of the ultra, I know if I have the endurance to complete the training, then I have the endurance to complete the event.
I have set some milestone sessions for my training based on distances – 13.1 miles (half-marathon), 15 miles, 18 miles, 20 miles, 24 miles, and 26.2 miles (marathon). I know if I complete each of those in the next 17 weeks then it isn’t a case of if, but when I cross that finish line.
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.