Toe the line

Posted on February 4, 2012 by Chris Baynham-Hughes

To keep the monotony of road miles at bay I’ve been listening to music and podcasts. Regarding tyhe latter I am used to relatively short snaps of news & economics from the excellent economist podcasts, a passionate presentation on the most interesting topics from the outstanding TED talks to get me thinking, or laugh out loud comedy from Rhod Gilbert’s best bits. However, I’ve recently stumbled upon Ultrarunner podcasts and the newly launched Talk Ultra podcasts – no prices for guessing the content.

Both Ultra running podcasts are very content rich and last from 40 minute to an hour and 40 minutes – featuring news round ups from across the globe, top tips and interviews with many legend of the sport. It’s been a real insight to hear opinions and tips from these people. I’ve also recently received and watched ‘Unbreakable‘ – a feature length documentary of 2010′s Western States 100 – it features some outstanding footage from the race, the back story of the race and its founder Gordy Ainsleigh (is it just me or does Ainsley keep popping up in my ultra running journey?) and fascinating profiles of the four main contenders for the title. The field was awesome with three guys (Geoff Roes, Anton  Krupicka and Kilian Jornet) unbeaten at the 100 mile distance, along with two times WS100 winner and reigning champion Hal Koerner.

For those that haven’t heard of the WS 100 (and why would you) it is the original 100 mile race as far as modern day ultra running is concerned and follows the trail of the Tevis Cup race (a horse race started in 1955 to prove that a horse could travel 100 miles in a day). It came about since Gordy’s horse was lame and his friend told him that he didn’t think any human could cover it – in typical ultra runner spirit Gordy saw that as an irresistible challenge.

So what have I learned from all these insights? Well Geoff Roes has let me off speedwork – stating that it’s not relevant at the longer ultra distances; unsurprisingly I’ve found completion has mental fortitude and stubbornness as a dominant or near dominant component; everybody hurts – running these distances mean one will almost certainly have bad periods, so tough them out and just keep movingl getting nutrition right is vital and it’s also quite a personal thing so experimentation is key; dropping back at a point in the race doesn’t mean the end and is actually the smarter thing to do so one is ready for the second wind; and if you want to complete a stage race then you’ve got to be focused on all the positives and reasons why you’ll enjoy finishing the stagre when you toe the line. I’ve also learned that long podcasts are a great way to pass the miles whilst training!

Where has this all put me? In a positive frame of mind! I’m not going to pretend that I’m not hugely disappointed to be heading into Hardmoor not having a kicked on from Brecon. I believe I could have laid down a real marker for myself time wise and been mentally strong going to my next stepping stone. I also felt I should be able to hang with the front runners (this for me means being within an hour of the winner). I’ve got to focus on the end price though and thus I’ll be all about finishing the race for the first 45 miles or so and then see what I have left to give. Effectively I’m seeing it as a long training run rather than a race and if I can finish in under 10 hours then I’ll be pleased. The time off and the possibility of not being in a position to do well on the BGR & DBR has taught me not to take it all for granted. I certainly won’t be getting complacent after my legs being in such bad condition at the half! Above all though I’m slowly building the mental foundations for the DBR and I literally can’t wait to toe the line!



All the podcasts mentioned can be found on iTunes.

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