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Going Ultra, and a Request for Inspiration!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

By Paul Willgoss

It’s becoming real. In a little less than three months I’ll be in a coach heading to the start line for my first ultramarathon. Going beyond the 26.2 miles of a marathon for anyone must be one of the less sane things you can do, but the trick (I am assured) is continual incremental progress, building slowly and surely towards that fateful day in October.

Like so much in the lives of us ACHDers, we need to be more aware of the planning and make sure that changes are built in so that any issues are noticed, monitored and checked out.

This is part of the reason I use the tech normally used by far better athletes than me. The heart rate monitor and GPS combine so I can see the impact of hills, increases in speed, weather and so on… Add in the food diary—to check the calorie burn and that what I’m eating is working for the short runs and long runs—and a detailed picture of me as a runner emerges.

And the other part—I like the toys!

The same applies for the clothing and footwear. I’m going to be in it longer than others so making sure that it fits, is comfortable when wet/dry/windy/humid, and doesn’t chafe is critical. The last thing I want or need at mile 27 is jogger’s nipple!

Physically, it is all about building up by a reasonable amount each week until I’m running long and well for a long time. I’m planning to run at least one, if not two, marathon-distance training runs. That’ll be around six hours on my feet.

I’m in good shape now—not quite as good as I was going into the Belfast Marathon, but good. Psychologically, I know the training will be tough. So I’ve built in some runs I know and I enjoy and a couple of new experiences to keep me entertained.

The British 10k means I’ll be running past some of the best sites in London. The Great North Run is a firm favourite and where my running “career” started many years ago. The experiences—well, the training video—for the Edinburgh Festival run is amusing and terrifying in equal measure, but it’s a unique opportunity to run somewhere I have jogged before (in the day) and hopefully make people look in wonder at the lights on the hill. The other is a running weekend where I’ll be doing a trail run, just under half marathon distance, with a fair chunk of ascent in it.

I’ve also reviewed my mental mantras, the little phrases and sayings that keep me doing what will be so hard at the time – just putting one foot in front of the other. I know I’m going to have days where nothing works, and I grumble my way around the distances I have to do. I also know I’m going to have days when I seem to float over the ground. Both are equally good days; one shows me I have good technique and one shows me I can keep it together when it hurts the most. And running through all of it is one of the phrases I use a lot, like a lot and I view as a personal charm—“Life is pain ... anyone who says differently is selling something”. There’s a small prize for the first person to correctly identify the film that’s from!

I’ll also be drawing on those I find inspirational—YOU! It doesn’t matter if you’re going on your first 5 km stroll, learning a new skill or facing a fear—let me know, I’m going to need to feed on your stories to keep me pounding the miles.

So that’s it. Three months to go. Mind, body and spirit are willing… all focused on 50 km, 31 miles, and a finish on the steps of Nottingham Castle.


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