Today is 3rd May 2021 and 2 months to go until the Serpent Trail 50k.
So far this year I’ve completed 105 training sessions. I’ve completed 52 sessions on the bike trainer and 53 runs. I’ve not missed a single session this year. I’ve already run 381.53 miles this year which is further than my entire total for 2020 which was 355.04 miles. I’ve not got a target for distance running in 2021 and am just clocking the miles up.
0520 is the time my alarm goes off twice a week, so I can get out for a run before starting work. I used to hate having to get up early and train but nowadays, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, if anything I look forward to it.
There are 1,510 tracks on my MP3 player (and I still have a fair few more to add on) – when out running I try and name the track as soon as possible, there is some stuff I have no idea who it is!!!! The selection of music, genres, and artists is eclectic to put it mildly. I’ve got into the habit of singing along to one song on my longer runs, I try not to look at people when I pass them as I howl along tunelessly to ‘Bomber’ by Motorhead. There are exactly zero songs by Bon Jovi or Nickelback – they have zero place on any track list………. ever. I’ve stopped picking up the pace whenever a track by Slayer comes on – the long runs are not the time for that game anymore!
The Serpent Trail 50k will be the first race I’ve done for a while. I think my last race was a Park Run 5k just over 4 years ago. I’ve no idea how many races I’ve done in total over the years – there are probably some I’ve forgotten about completely.
After the Serpent Trail the focus shifts to the Great South Run and then the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon. The marathon will be the 10th marathon I’ve run – it will be a relief to get into double figures as it has been bugging me for years. The last marathon I ran was in Valencia in 2008.
I have a feeling the Serpent Trail 50k won’t be the only ultra-marathon I run. I’ve no idea how quickly I’m going to run it. The main aim is to cross the finish line, but I’ll be happy to finish in 6 hours (which is an average pace of 11:35 min/mile), I’ll be delighted with a time of 5:30 (which is an average pace of 10:37 min/mile) – most of my training runs have been anywhere between 8:30 min/mile to just under 10:00 min/mile. On the day, I need to keep my ego well in check and realise that it could be a world of pain from mile 23 onwards – this is where it is going to get interesting and it becomes more of a mental rather than physical effort.
I still have a lot of training to do and my longest run will be 26-28 miles – that’ll give me a more accurate idea of what I’m capable of finishing the event in, but experience tells me anything can happen on the day. I’ve already accumulated 5 blisters from my longer runs and have lost two toe-nails – it comes with the territory.
I usually have to check 7-8 times before the closing the front door that I have actually got my keys! I recently bought a new pair of trail running shorts which cost more than the last pair of jeans I bought – I sometimes wonder if I have got my perspectives correct. Then again I own more pairs of running shoes than I do normal shoes.
I’m planning to do a two-week taper in the lead up to the event – the number of sessions will be the same, but the volume drops considerably. I don’t enjoy the taper phase as I feel lazy and worry about slight tweaks and twangs in my muscles being impending injuries.
I’m trying hard not to eat my own body weight each week in home-made energy bars. I’ve watched countless documentaries on ultra-running and am baffled on how someone can run 100 miles at 8:30 min/mile pace - off-road and up and down mountain trails!
I’m 50 years of age in a few months’ time and never in my wildest imagination did I think I’d be training for an ultra-marathon. Then again I’ve never been one to limit their possibilities and that is the number one thing – don’t limit your possibilities.
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.