Having taken part in quite a few long distance endurance events over the years I know the importance of consistent training – there are no hiding places if you haven’t done the training, there is no easy option if you haven’t done the training, and there are no shortcuts either.
I really like that about endurance events. You have to earn the right to start them. You have to earn the right to finish them. I’ve only ever failed to finish one race and that was due to hypothermia setting in. All the others I have crossed the finish line. In those events my target might have been just to cross the finish line, or I might have been racing to complete it in a certain time. Not all of those races were easy, far from it, actually some of them were tough – both mentally and physically. There have been times when I’ve taken part in events where my race plan has suddenly been torn up in front of me, either due to the physical aspect or the mental aspect and sometimes both. The things that got me through were my determination not to quit, knowing that if I could kept moving forwards I was getting closer to the finish line, and that I had put in the effort to do the training to get me across the finish line.
Putting the training in requires effort and sacrifice but the satisfaction of crossing the finish line far outweighs that effort and sacrifice. To me that means getting out of the door whether I feel like it or not. It means getting out of the door no matter what the weather is doing. It means planning the time in each day to complete those training sessions and yes, that means making sacrifices at times. It also means making every training session count.
When I train I make some of the sessions tougher because I want to know that on race day I am able to dig deeper, both mentally and physically when things get tougher. There should be certain elements of training that are uncomfortable – to me, if it feels too easy then I’m not gaining anything from it, it feels like I’m just going through the motions. The longer runs I do should be at a slightly quicker pace to what I’m planning to run at the ultra in July. The shorter runs should be a lot quicker. I try to vary the pace a lot on my runs – sometimes that feels great and other times I am in a world of pain.
I know the importance of making each and every training session count. Consistency will get me to the start line in July. What will get me across the finish line is knowing I’ve made every session count. Knowing that physically I’m able to endure the demands required to finish the ultra. Knowing mentally I’m able to endure the demands required to finish the ultra, knowing on the day I am mentally unbreakable, that I can overcome the challenges that I will face.
I’m under no illusion whatsoever that it is going to be a tough event, so I need to do everything I can to prepare for it – I need to have done every session I’ve planned, to have the right kit to wear on the day, get my nutrition plan right, and be mentally prepared for it.
I know that on the day there will be times when I will probably want to throw the towel in, but I won’t, I know I won’t, I know that is not an option. There is only one option I have – keep moving forwards, keep pushing towards the finish line. I know I am going to have to shut out the pain when my legs are aching, I know I am going to have to shut out some of the negative self-talk and maintain that self-belief that I will get across that finish line. I will have the answers to all that faces me on the day because I’ve been there already, I’ve faced it already when I’ve made every session count. I’m doing all I can to earn the right to be on that start line and all I can to earn that right to get across that finish line.
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.