This was supposed to be a list of 10 things but I kept thinking of others, there are also probably things I have forgotten about, but these points stand out to me as things I’ve learnt over the training period and racing 100km!
1. Respect the distance: I worked my arse off to train for this race. I was already in pretty decent endurance nick having come off a marathon PB in March, so I just built up from there. I feel like my running over the last five years built up to this year, and each year I was laying more solid foundations that would see me through this race.
2. You need to have an iron stomach: I ate a lot of food during training, but nowhere near as much as during the race, and thankfully everything agreed with me. I even ate things I hadn’t trained with and wouldn’t normally eat/drink at all like squash, coke, and white pasta, but it all went down well. I find eating small bits at a time helps, I tend to drip feed and have a little bite of something frequently.
3. Respect the course: Race to the Stones was almost completely on trail, some of it was quite technical, and it places very different demands on your body to road running. I did not do enough trail running at all during training, so I was lucky to get away unscathed on the day, other than my fall.
4. Don’t carry too much weight: I packed an entire picnic as I was worried about vegan options on the way, but I needn’t have bothered, there was loads I could eat. I ended up carrying half of the stuff I brought with me for the entire 63 miles. I also didn’t use my long sleeve top, or headtorch but felt safer having them with me. I chose not to carry a waterproof as the forecast was fine.
5. Listen to your body not your mind: Your mind will want to quit long before your body, thankfully I never had to cross that bridge, but it’s important to focus on what your body is telling you, not your mind. If it’s telling you to run then run, if it’s telling you to walk then walk.
6. Have a buddy: I do a lot of my running alone, but I’ve really enjoyed training with WMNRUN100, and I enjoyed buddying up with Dave who asked if he could run with me at 40 miles. Honestly I believe this was the reason why I never suffered any dips or low points, as it was nice to have company, and distract yourself from the miles ahead. If you can’t buddy up-then chat to everyone you pass or who passes you anyway, it makes the miles fly by!
7. Break the race into smaller chunks: My aim was to get to the next checkpoint whether that was 12km away or 6km, each checkpoint marked a little way closer to the end goal. I was also aware of being halfway, having a marathon left, a half marathon left- these little milestones really propel you forward! Also when I was running, I would always try and run until I reached an incline (however small), or keep running until that bend in the trail, that sign, that bunch of wild flowers. It kinds your mind occupied too.
8. Slow your pace: I ran the entire race at an easy comfortable pace, I don’t ever remember being out of breath-other than trying to walk fast up hills! You have to realise that pace is out the window, the terrain and length of time you are out there for, means you just need to go at whatever feels comfortable to you at that point- you will have dips, so it’s making the most of the times when you feel good.
9. Do some walking in training: I do a lot of walking generally, but I didn’t do any specific walking training for this race and it really showed. I was so much slower than anyone else when I started walking as people who I was running with would drift off into the distance. I would recommend doing some power walking as training, and also doing some hill walking. You are going to save the most time if you can improve your walking as it’s ultimately what you are going to be spending a lot of time doing.
10. Test your kit: I wore kit that I am very comfortable in, a Nike t-shirt, tempo shorts, x-socks, trusty Asics Kayanos, and my ultimate direction ultra vest and I was comfortable the entire time. No chafe, no sore spots, no stiffness or pain, and my feet don’t even look like they’ve run a half let alone 100km. Train in your race day kit, and go with comfort on the day.
11.Have a goal: I had a rough goal of finishing anywhere between 12-14 hours, I knew 14 was around where I wanted to finish as I wanted to get in before it got dark. Although I wasn’t strict about hitting paces or anything, I knew at half way if I carried on as I had done already I would make it. It was a very loose goal but I feel if I hadn’t had anything in mind I might have got adrift somewhere in the mid section.
12. Disappointing Runger: I was so looking forward to the insane runger that I thought would descend post race, but it never arrived. I have never been so disappointed. I completely lost my appetite for days, was off loads of foods, got full very quickly and I didn’t even have dinner one day- naughty! It was so unlike me, I’ve been hungrier after a routine 4 miles!
13. Ride the endorphin high: I’ve been in a happy endorphin bubble for the entire time since the race, I’ve yet to come down, so I can already imagine that I am going to crash hard when I do, but while it lasts I shall enjoy this dream like state.
14. Rest Hard: “When is your next race?” “February…” I am planning on taking a fairly decent chunk of time out away from running, to process everything that has happened and let my body heal. My legs are already feeling almost back to normal, but it can take months for the endocrine system to repair itself, and as I had a lot of issues during training that were endocrine related, I’m giving my body a chance to relax and my thyroid/adrenals and immune system the chance to recover. Yes there are a million and one races I want to sign up for, but if I want to continue running long term, I need to make a short term sacrifice and try to reset.
15. Capacity for boredom: I ran for 14 hours, with no stimulation, no music, and other than the last 23 miles that I ran with Dave and first 4 with Amelia, I was largely on my own, in my own head. I honestly think my daily meditation practice helped me massively here, as it just helped me to be in the moment, and once I got in a zone, time seemed to just pass by.
16. Look around you: I don’t get out of the city very often, and had never been to the Ridgeway, so often I was stopped in my tracks at the beauty on offer, some of the views were fantastic, and I took some time to soak them in, and appreciate, the sights/sounds/smells of the country!