Friday, 20 June 2014

The Art of achievement!

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" Thomas Palmer

I'm training for a back to back ultra marathon this coming July. The race involves running 62km on Saturday morning, followed closely by a 55km run on Sunday morning of the same weekend. As you can imagine this race requires some planning, training, failing, reinventing oneself and cast iron commitment before success can be had.

What validates success in this race?

Receiving a finishers medal!

How is it all going?

So far, so good! I've managed to stay injury free by using very specific training methods. Since there isn't a whole lot of speed required during a 120km run over a weekend my training consists of regular, long, slow runs any where from 10km to 42.2km to date.
Week on week I have been trying to increase my weekly mileage. It's now time to crank up the mileage where running weeks will hit and pass 100km. Exciting!

Why race Ultras?

Ultra marathons, it is argued, are what we are born to do, literally born to do? Anybody who has taken the time to enjoy the pages of the best selling book 'Born To Run' have come across the compiling evidence that we are in fact born to run. 
I enjoy ultras because it's not so much about the time but more the process. This is the way it used to be with marathons before people (myself included) started getting all statistical and egotistic about time and pace. How can 4hrs01sec be a failure while, 3hrs59min59sec is an epic win?
The truth is anybody holding a marathon medal should be proud regardless of time. Every body has different circumstances and comparing yourself to someone else is an arbitrary process that inevitably leads to disappointment, unfulfilled ambition and low self esteem. Trust me, I've done it often enough. 

Ultras for the time being seem to be a little different. The conversation surrounding an ultra is usually about how you run it rather than how fast you can run it.
People don't usually ask about time because they recognise you did something epic, something most people will never do, something worth doing. And that's the real key in any fitness regime, something worth doing!

There is nothing rewarding about quick fix, short term punishing exercise regimes. There is also nothing healthy about that type of lifestyle either. The people who enjoy fitness, health and well-being are those who have incorporated exercise into their daily life. The people who have achieved their goals have put in the hours and the commitment to the process.  They also tend to be happy, healthy and vitalised after exercising. Instead of miserable, tired and craving junk food.

Isn't that type of distance bad for your body?

This is a question I get asked a lot, it's usually the question people ask me after they ask where I get my protein from, since I do all this running on a plant based (vegan) diet. 
The short answer is no, this type of running is not bad for your joints. However, it can be bad if you don't take the necessary precautions to stay fit and healthy.

I suggest in an earlier post (It's such a PAIN not being able to run!) that the 3 main causes of inury are;
1. Not enough rest and recovery
2. Training too hard on every run
3. Eating inappropriate foods.

Joint strain and long endurance running is not a driver of injury, in fact I would argue quite the contrary.

Raw foods have a huge anti-inflammatory affect on the body and aid repair and recovery. Animal products are massively associated with a pro inflammatory state in the body and cause an acidic affect on the body. Both these affects are a driver to injury and poor health. Eating plant based, training at optimal heart rate levels and taking good rest keeps me injury free and healthy. 

So what type of exercise is bad for your body?

All those quick fix, minimum effort maximum results, self obsessing and calorie restricting regimes are catastrophic for your body and it's long term health. 
Nothing in life is ever worthy of your gratitude when it came easy, a lot of people don't consider this when they are planning their fitness and long term health. 

The old adage is true "easy come, easy go".

Strangling the health from your body in an attempt to lose weight or get ripped in 6 weeks is the epitome of poor knowledge. These type of regimes are fantastic at shedding weight very quickly, destroying your thyroid gland and earning a quick buck for personal trainers. They inevitably come at the cost of long term health, happiness and satisfaction. 
Having worked as a personal trainer for over 15 years I've never met anybody who maintained their objectives after completing one of these bio hacking fads. 
I suggest that if you really want to lose weight, increase your strength, endurance and happiness while promoting your long term health you need to make lifestyle changes and ignore monthly punishment plans.

Exercise as a health promoter

We all exercise for the same reason. We want to look good, feel good and be healthy. Nobody wants to exercise so they can be miserable, angry and unhealthy, yet that's what a lot of people are doing. Pushing your body to the limit while starving it of nutrient rich foods in an attempt to reduce calories will only ever have one long term outcome, and it's not health.

"The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat can influence your life by 30 to 50 years." Deepak Chopra

So really, why race ultras?

Well it doesn't have to be an ultra marathon, it can be a marathon, a half marathon or a 10km race. It doesn't even have to be a race.

Choose your own goal if that's what motivates you but at least choose something worth achieving.

Choose health, choose the process, choose the preparation and the willingness to accept failure if it occurs.

Choose to try again if or when you do fail. Choose the sacrifice and whatever it is you are going to sacrifice to achieve your goal.

Choose yourself, choose to be the best person you can be and then go and be that person!

I guarantee it will take longer than 6 weeks but I also guarantee that you will notice seismic shifts in your body, health and diet during the process . Start by changing one small thing. When you've mastered that change another small thing. Keep the long term goal big and don't be afraid to achieve it!

Keep changing and reinvent yourself.

We as beings we are never static. We are either progressing or regressing in every single aspect of our lives. Never is that more true than in physical fitness and health.

"Get Busy living, or get busy dying" Andy Dufresne, The Shawshak Redemption

Run far, run fast but most of all RunSensible!