3 years ago today I did my first ‘proper’ endurance challenge, the Scotland Coast to Coast, which feels like a lifetime ago. But good to remind myself that I really haven’t been doing this running thing for very long, before that race I’d run 3 half marathons, a couple of 10k’s, a little dabble in adventure racing and that was pretty much it. But I loved the idea of taking on a challenge and where better to do it than the Scottish Highlands? I roped my little brother into joining me and that was the beginning of both of our journeys into the wonderful world of endurance sport. Since then I’ve run 9 marathons (with no. 10 in November), 2 ultra marathons and 2 half ironman’s. Plus of course multiple shorter races and lots of training adventures.
The Scotland Coast to Coast
The Scotland Coast to Coast remains one of the best races I’ve ever done, I love the idea of crossing a country, for some reason it feels like a much bigger achievement than doing the same distances in a looped course. I also loved the challenge of multiple sports plus having to choose and ride a bike both on the road and off road. From a development perspective as an athlete it was a huge milestone, the first time doing anything of that distance or duration with all the planning and preparation that goes with it. It gave me huge confidence about what I was capable of both physically and mentally, in fact the mental part was potentially more important.
We all know with endurance sports that being strong mentally is a huge contributor to success, allowing you to get through the inevitable low moments like hitting the wall in a marathon. Doing the Coast to Coast gave me the confidence that my body was actually capable of covering such a distance and moving for 11 hours something which seemed inconceivable when I finished my first half marathon. Running 13.1 miles seemed like such a long way and I don’t think I could comprehend how someone could run twice that distance, yet now I’ll happily go off for a 15 mile run at the weekend.
But it takes time, it takes time to build that confidence, it takes time to build the endurance base to do it. I was chatting to a running friend recently who was asking how I managed to run 6 days a week and wasn’t I knackered the whole time. I had to point out that when I started running regularly around 5 years ago it was hard, but having built up and consistently run 5-6 days a week for 4 years now my body is used to it. I don’t run massive mileage but I am consistent and quite honestly consistency is king. Something which I think is often forgotten, particularly in this social media world we live in where it seems like everyone is taking on a big challenge of some kind, I can imagine being a new runner looking in it can feel quite daunting.
Certainly some of the social media ‘role models’ (and I use inverted commas because I think it’s questionable exactly what some of them are modelling) give the impression that you can just jump from one massive challenge to the next without lots of training or preparation. Of course they have a great base fitness to work from so it’s possible to adapt, but there aren’t many people who operate at the level and I’m sure we’ll see some that do burn out soon as they never seem to rest.
Personally I’m really enjoying this journey I’m on, from small beginnings at the Bristol half marathon all those years ago to now contemplating tackling an Ironman next year. Developing as an athlete and finding out exactly what my body is capable of, I’m loving my training at the moment and excited to start my 30 week training plan for the Ironman later in the year.
I’m also obsessively listening to old Fat Boy Slim albums after I wrote the title for this blog. Such awesome tunes.