Sunday, 20 July 2014

Finding Ultra!

My journey began in January 2013, I was training for the Paris marathon. There had been a 5 year hiatus between it and my previous Dublin marathon 2008. I had kept active in the years between but I was no where near the physical condition that I had been at in 2008.
I was living in London during that period and my main form of transport was a single speed push bike which, was fantastic fitness and resistance training and the only way to keep my weight steady. I was studying during that period and had also started a family having two little boys.
I have one of those minds which does not allow me to dabble, I'm either doing it or I'm not. And during those years work, study and family life were so busy and enjoyable, there was just no time for racing. I missed the training but understood that one day I'd get back to the start line.
When my training cranked up in preparation for Paris 2013 I had some minor health issues, see here. I made some minor changes in my life and nutrition. Every small change I made led to the next small change and still today I am changing and hopefully progressing as a person and a runner. 
The most notable change during this period was the development of a predominantly plant based diet and this also led me to the world of Ultra running. 

What is ultra running?

Any distance farther than a marathon 26.2 miles or 42.2km is considered an Ultra! 
Most Ultras are either 50km, 50miles, 100km or 100miles. 

As I got back into training and began changing my diet, I began to really enjoy the long runs. Taking time out away from a busy life gave me great perspective and some time to view and asses all the challenges I had in my day to day life. The farther I ran the more perspective I had, so I just started running farther and farther. 

Most people think I'm crazy and that I have some sort of unearthly fitness and determination. I don't! I don't have any genetic predisposition to fitness, I don't have any secret recipe for staying fit other than, grinding out run after run staying consistent and having a goal. Achieving a fitness goal is very very simple. But simple should not be confused with easy. It's not easy, it is difficult but simple none the less. 

How is it so simple? 

All you need to do to achieve any goal is search the internet for a training plan, stick to the plan and complete the feat once the training is done. It really is that simple!

What makes it difficult?

Most people think the accomplishment of the feat is difficult. It's not. That's probably the only easy part of the whole process. I just completed the stone mad Ultra 2014, it is a back to back race that consists of 62km day 1 and 55km day two which, takes you up and over Mount Leinster. I sincerely enjoyed every single step and it really wasn't all that difficult. It was immensely challenging but not very difficult, there is a big difference. What was difficult was the training, the sacrifice and the commitment to the process. (Need help with commitment? see here)

Getting up early every Sunday morning after a busy week in work to grind out a long run. Doing a tempo run in the evenings after putting the kids to bed. Running in the dark, running in the cold, running in the rain. Running late on Saturday night when most people are socialising, and getting up to run again on Sunday morning. Running when all you want to do is crash out on the sofa. Not being able to have a few glasses of wine at a social gathering because you've got to run that evening or the following morning. Running alone.....That's all difficult but that's what it takes.

If you have the desire and can commit to the training you'll find enjoyment in running and when you find enjoyment you can run any distance you like. 
People always look at the outcome and think "Wow" how can you run that far. Those people have missed the whole point. The committed to continue sacrificing day after day after day, that is where the marvel is. The sacrifice comes easy when you have the desire to achieve the goal. But most people lack that desire. They say "I'd love to do x, y or z" but when they discover what they have to sacrafice to achieve it, they quit. They quit because they can't see any enjoyment and therefore lack the commitment. They fail before they even try!

It's not easy, it is damn right difficult but it's very very very simple. 

You must have

Desire; to wish or long for; crave or want.
Commitment; a pledge or promise; obligation
Enjoyment; the possession, use or occupancy of anything with satisfaction or pleasure

Then if you really want it, really really really want it! Just do it! 

Run far, run fast but most of all RunSensible!

@RunSensible on twitter