I keep seeing a lot of posts recently on Facebook and social media from people wanting to step up a distance or enter race x but aren’t sure whether they can do it.
By telling you my story of how I went from being a non-runner to finishing the UTMB and setting the course record on Hardmoors 110 will serve as inspiration for those people to sign up and feel confident that they can complete whatever race they put their mind to.
If I can do it, then anyone can. It won’t be easy but if you set your mind to it then do it you will.
Rewind back to the end of 2013 and I was working at home bored one day wasting time on Facebook and an advert popped up in my newsfeed asking for people to run the Virgin London Marathon for David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. In a fit of madness, I applied thinking I would never get picked. A few days later I got a call saying I was in.
I hadn’t run since school, I was 4.5 stone overweight, I didn’t own any running gear and to top it all off 26.2 miles seemed like a bloody long way. What the hell do I do now?
My training started on New Years Day 2014, I had 3 months to get myself fit so I found a training plan sorted out my diet and got started. 3hrs 30mins seemed like a reasonable time to get round in so that was my target.
I hated running for the first 6 weeks and couldn’t see how I was ever going to get to the finish line, but as the weight came off and it started to get easier I had an epiphany. I can remember exactly where I was at the time (on The Stray running towards Weatherby Road) when everything changed. I was getting faster and could go further, running was fun.
From here on I was hooked. I ran my first ultra in October that year and then I heard about a little race called the UTMB. I have to do that race, just a little problem of needing enough points to even be able to enter the draw.
I dnf’d my first 100 mile race. Boy, was that a horrible experience but in a way, I’m glad it happened as it’s made me much stronger mentally.
Hard work pays off
Jayson Cavill keeps telling me that to run your best you need to be enjoying it and this is true. People get enjoyment from different things so you need to focus on what makes running 100 miles fun for you.
For me, the main reason I race is to get from point A to point B as fast as possible beating as many people as I can in the process and this is why I enjoy racing. It also explains why, when things go wrong and I’m not running so well I struggle mentally. It’s something I need to focus on for next year.
You decided to do this
When you are having a bad time just remember one thing. You decided to do this, nobody forced you to enter, so
Kits a very personal thing but whatever you do make sure you are confident with everything you are wearing or carrying when you line up on the start line. It isn’t the time to be trying out a new brand of socks or new shoes.
Again, something that is very personal and everyone has different opinions about ‘the best’ food and nutrition strategy to use.
In training, you should be testing what works for you
Strength and conditioning
Race strategy and timings
Just do it
At the end of the day, what’s the worst that can happen? You might DNF in which case you will pick yourself up, find another race and try again but you will never know unless you sign up.