London to Brighton 100k 25th May
The next stage of #upandrun for Understand Pain is the London (Richmond upon Thames) to Brighton. 100k from city to coast. I lived in Brighton for some years, so it feels a little like running home.
This time I will be doing it in one day; the full 100k. Of course I am expecting and preparing for challenging moments along the way. That’s why we do it! To face, overcome and complete.
Running can be a great metaphor for life. Inevitably life is full of ups and downs. These are unavoidable. However, our approach and attitude define them as opportunities or obstacles. Whilst these moments maybe hard and unpleasant, the way we view them determines whether we learn and move on or suffer more than is necessary.
The tougher moments when running include fatigue and heaviness in the legs, knowing that despite going for hours, there are still hours remaining, and various aches and pains. I’ll share a few strategies that I use to re-focus and keep going.
1. Re-focus on what you want and keep going
Everything comes through the mind. The mind is embodied. These are both important considerations. There is no separation between body and mind. Instead we have a (whole) person. The way we think is embodied, the decisions we make are affected by our body state, and our bodies keep the score of all our thoughts and emotions. Skilfully appreciating this and using it to our advantage is one of the habits of peak performers. We can all be peak performers in our own way.
In that tougher moment, you learn to take a perspective and re-focus on what you want to achieve as an outcome. What is my picture of success, or dream? When you focus on what you want, you feel your energy lift. In one way, this is how you know you are focusing on your picture of success rather than something else. For instance, paying attention to the feeling of heavy legs and any on-going thoughts brings on further sensations of heaviness — it gets worse.
2. Remember your purpose
Knowing one’s purpose is healthy according to research to date. Since Viktor Frankl wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, there has been interest in purpose as something that spurs us on, gets us up in the morning and drives persistence in the face of adversity.
Many people run with purpose. Often this is for a cause such as a charity, chosen in the name of a loved one who suffers or has passed on. I believe that is why events such as the London Marathon are so emotive.
In that moment when it is ‘sticky’, you recall your purpose, the person or people you are representing and drive on. You know that no matter how much it hurts right now, it is nothing compared to the suffering of others.
3. Fuelling skilfully
On longer runs, your fuelling is essential. It is also personal and unique in as much as each person must find out what they need. The experimentation should take place on training runs so that you know and can prepare fully for the actual event.
The night before I always have a (big) bowl of spaghetti bolognese. In the morning, I am up early having porridge with blueberries and honey. At least one shot of coffee is also essential for me, together with two shots of beetroot juice. Until the start, I will nibble: a banana, a Pursu nutrition bar, cashew nuts; and sips of water.
During ultra runs, I re-fuel around the first 10-12k mark and then at the rest points. On the Ultra Challenges, the rest points are every 10-15k ish, offering a range of fruit, pastries, cookies, flapjacks, sweets, coffee, water, sports drinks, pick n mix, hot meals (at lunch) and more. Typically I will have a banana, salt and vinegar crisps, a cookie, water, a shot of coffee, pick n mix (yum!), watery fruit (e.g./ melon), sports drink and refill my bottles. I carry gels and use them as needed, but typically towards the end when I need a little booster.
The principle I follow is to keep hydrated and fuelled rather than wait. I used thirst as a guide, but only very mild thirst, sipping regularly, especially if it is hot. When I notice a particular type of heaviness and I know that there is a way to go before the next stop, I will use a gel.
Marathons are different because the are no rest points; the run is non-stop. Fuelling and drinking are on the go. It can be messy!
Whichever way you find works, it is a key strategy to use in order to keep going.