So many months of training are now completed. The early mornings, training in all weathers, running longer training distances than I’ve ever covered for an event before. It is all completed now and the next time I run will be at the Serpent Trail 50k. I’ve run over 600 miles in my training this year in preparation – I’ve never run that far in a calendar year before, let alone 6 months!
The start of the week presented me with a major challenge. I managed to stub three of the toes on my left foot quite heavily early on Monday morning and feared that I may have broken one of my toes, they were bruised and there was some swelling as well. For months, I’d been careful in my preparation and recovery to avoid injury, and one slight accident less than a week before the event could easily have thrown everything away.
Had this been any other event I would have skipped my last couple of training runs, but this is different.
Monday morning I headed out for a 6-mile run to see what the impact was. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as I thought and although it felt painful at times it was manageable – that was a relief. Tuesday I went out for another 6-mile run. The foot still felt painful, but it was manageable. Thursday was the last run before the event and I did 8 miles at what was supposed to be an easy pace, but I was feeling good so picked it up a little and the foot felt much better – a couple of twinges but more of a slight ache than anything painful. So apart from the damage to my left foot the training has gone well. I’m feeling strong, I’m feeling both mentally and physically prepared, and most importantly I feel ready.
I know that whatever challenges the event throws at me, I will be able to overcome them. I’ve made sure that some of my longer training runs have been over tougher terrain than the event. I’ve done my research into many aspects of ultra-running; nutrition, mental preparation, kit, and recovery.
Years ago when I spoke to people that competed in ultra-running events, I admired them but thought it wasn’t for me. I had a change of mindset a couple of years ago (about the time when I first started this blog) and decided to enter an event. I didn’t make it to the start line for multiple reasons – the main one being at the time my head and heart wasn’t fully committed to it. It has bugged me since, and now I have an opportunity to put those bugs and that disappointment in myself well and truly behind me.
I’ve found over the last 6 months when I have been fully committed to training for this event that my mindset has changed dramatically. When I started this blog a few years ago I wasn’t in a happy place, I didn’t like myself, I was frustrated with myself, and I had no goals that I was aiming for. Now I’m determined, stronger, and know if I push myself further than I think I can go I can achieve so much more. It feels good. Getting to the start line has been a major positive, crossing that finish line will be cathartic, but won’t be the finish. It will be a new beginning.
I know that these events are tough both physically and mentally and require huge efforts of endurance – that is why I am drawn to them. I think getting across the finish line and resting on my laurels and saying I’ve ticked that box, I’m done with it would be a huge waste. I know that I’m going to be tired and aching at the finish line and the following days and those inevitable words – ‘never again’ – may be muttered but the tiredness and aching muscles will pass and the thrill of completing the event will override this and thoughts of what next, could I do it again but a bit quicker, could I go further, could I do a tougher course?
And it starts again, those months of training, those early mornings, the planning, the physical and mental preparation and getting to that point where I can say I’m ready for this. That is a massive change from when I first started this blog, and with time and belief anything is possible if you want it enough.
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.