First Covid stopped me, then injury got in the way, so when everything looked clear this year I had to sign up for the race before it was too late.
I started upping my distances last autumn and began training in earnest at the beginning of Feb.
I’ve been amazed at how well my body has coped. Towards the end, the training plan has had me run maybe 24 miles on a Saturday and 10 miles on the Sunday and while it has been hard, I’ve been able to do it.
The real question is can I do that distance all on one day? Many people think I’m crazy when I say I’m doing this to see if I can, but that’s the only reason I can give you. Can I run that far and come out the other end in reasonable condition? Time is only the tiniest consideration for this one.
Training since Feb has been hard and there have been times when I really haven’t wanted to go out and run, especially in the cold pouring rain, but with every run I’ve got stronger and hopefully made it more likely that I’ll finish.
And I’ve been able to tick some things off my bucket list, the biggest of which was to run the South Downs Way. I still can’t get my head around the fact I've done it. Looking at it on the map it just seems too big, but I’m so glad I’ve had the chance to do it.
I’ve also run the whole Serpent Trail which was quiet and beautiful and I’d like to do again now it’s drier and the woods will be full of leaves and plants etc. (Yes I know I’ll be running part of it for the race, but that’s not what I mean.)
I’ve run the Shipwrights Way, which I’m glad to have done, but wasn’t the trail I was hoping for, aimed more at cyclists than runners.
And I’ve completed all the Slow Ways into Petersfield. There are some lovely routes in this bunch and I look forward to running some of them again. But I’m also looking at the next set to work my way through.
I’ve loved running the trails, even in the winter. But going forward this is something that’s only really going to happen in dry weather. I really can’t stand sliding around in mud, it just spoils the whole run. I don’t really like wet feet either!
But running through the countryside and not having to worry about cars is bliss. Finding new places you’d never see from the road. They feel like secret places. I know other people have used them, I can see their marks on the mud, but it’s rare to actually see them. This is a whole other world that I have to myself, except for a few deer.
It’s been very different from training for my marathon as that was all done on roads and followed a lot of the same routes each week. This time it’s all been trails and each week a different one. I’ve not just been training my body to run a long distance for a long time, but also gaining confidence in my map reading ability. Yes I’ve got lost a few times but nowhere near as badly as I thought I would. I’ve been learning to trust myself and trust in my abilities.
I’ve been able to see the improvement from the first few runs where I kept getting lost to now where I’m unphased by not being where I thought I was and finding that’s not happening as often any more anyway. I’m really looking forward to doing more exploring of the trails in my area once I don’t have a certain distance or time to cover.
One of my hardest mental challenges has been convincing myself it’s ok to eat sweets while out running. I would never normally spend my Saturday morning eating packets of sweets and I know this is different but it’s taken time to convince myself it’s ok. (I’m still not really convinced!)
And there is no way I could be doing the training I’m doing and commuting to work every day! I’ve been getting up at 5:30 to get 9 miles in before work, but if I was catching the train I just wouldn’t have time. Plus commuting is tiring and I’m already tired from all the running. The two combined would just be too much! (Also my boss was really relaxed about my start time, if I was ‘running’ late, which really helped.)
Lastly once again the support of ‘im outdoors has been amazing. Although I know he thinks I’m crazy to want to do this, if I ask him to drop me off in the middle of nowhere and tell him I’ll run home he does it without comment. If I’ve asked for a pick up, again from the middle of nowhere, he’d been there when I’ve needed him, often with a recovery shake. I could have done the training without him, but it would have been a lot more difficult.
So there we go. A round up of the past 5 months. There have been good bits and bad bits and while I’m nervous about tomorrow's run, I’m excited too. Excited to see what I can do, excited to be out on the trails again and excited for it all to be over.
759 miles run in training, 4 blisters, 3 pairs of trainers, 2 falls.