As you may already know, distance running is a mental sport. Sure there is a physical side to it but if you can’t get the mental side right then you’re not going to do very well.
It’s 90 per cent mental. The other 10 per cent is all in your head.
Sounds silly doesn’t it? But it’s true especially in Ultras. There is, on average, a 25% drop out rate before the start of most Ultras and at least 10% of those are just too plain scared to start. It’s a truly daunting prospect standing at the start line of a 50k or a 100k race for the first time. No level of training can prepare you for the hours and hours or running ahead.
I was lucky in the way my brain refused to acknowledge the distances in all my training. I’ll try to explain that. When I first started on C25K and was running my first kilometre, the thought of running 10k was just about imaginable but a half marathon wasn’t something I could comprehend. The same happen when I moved up to 10k; a marathon was an impossible distance so I didn’t think about it.Once I switched up towards the marathon, 26.2 miles slowly, over 8 – 10 weeks, became a distance that my mind allowed me to realise was possible.
A 50k race is just that little bit further than a marathon so a little more training and you are there. A 100k race is a different beast and takes a totally different mind set to complete. Imagine your last marathon, or your first if you’re still training for one, and remember how you felt when you crossed that finishing line at 26.2 miles. You’re tired and your muscles are thanking you for finishing. You can slump into a comfy chair or sit in the bath and relax and congratulate yourself with a glass of bubbly and then take a few days off. Well this is a 100k race and you’re not even halfway, you drag yourself up and you start running again and hours later you finish your second marathon. Wow!! At last you can sit down and rest, that cup of tea looks pretty good now! “What do you mean I still have a half marathon to run?” Yep, sorry, on you go. Just 13 miles to go now!! Mentally that’s tough. I’ve done it and it’s mind blowing but I can just switch off my mind and trudge onwards, ever onwards.
Looking forward to the long races I plan to do next year my brain just can not understand 5 1/2 marathons or 9 1/2 marathons back to back which is probably a very good thing right now. 🙂