13 weeks, 71 miles and some intrinsic motivation from suffering
This week I have really focused on just completing my running for each day and not thinking about what is coming for later in the week.
I was able to do this for 7 loops of the 7.5 mile route between Tuesday and Saturday. This was one a day during the week with the remaining 3 yesterday. My legs were quite fresh compared to the cement like feeling I had to start last week with following the King of The Hill race. I enjoyed listening to several podcasts and was confident of returning to running in woods this morning without much trouble.
Post Hill Woods has a sentimental value for me as I mainly used these in training for the Beauty and the Beast marathon in 2013 (4800ft of elevation) and both times when I was training for Grand Tour of Skiddaw (7000ft of elevation) in 2015 and 2017.
I got up at 4:30am and was starting my first lap of the woods by 5:05am. This was my first time running with a torch as my primary light source since the last hour of the Skiddaw race last September. Luckily I had a fair bit of familiarity with the route so could anticipate the turns even with about 5m visibility my torch offered. By half way through my second lap it was daylight and I could fling the torch back in my car.
I must have psyched myself up too much for running through the dark as I died several tiny deaths on lap 3! My legs were cramping up and I was genuinely contemplating driving home and just persevering on the streets instead. I had listened to some very intelligent points about intrinsic and extrinsic motivators in some of the podcasts earlier in the week.
I have quite a few extrinsic motivators that should have kept me in those woods. In 3 weeks I will be trying a 100km course almost entirely on trails, my main goal for this year is 72 miles of a trail path and my upcoming plan for 2019 is 90% trail. I know I will get medals and shirts at these that will ultimately lead to me signing up for more races and repeating this pattern.
The intrinsic motivator that kept me there was an enjoyment of the act of running when it is really difficult. I had to trust that if I took on board fluids and ate regularly that my energy levels would improve but regardless I was going to stay until I had reached at least 9 laps (18 miles) so I had covered over 70 for the week.
I had some lemon squash and 2 bounce energy balls after 3 laps and felt a bit of a perk after this. Similarly after 6 laps I was able to pick up some very marginal speed for lap 7. The mud was more of an accepted challenge by this point and although my legs would flail off from time to time, I was certain of finishing my 9 laps.
Logically I perhaps should have cut my losses and had a faster 2nd half of my run on the streets rather than my 18 muddy miles taking over 4 hours. Even if purely in terms of having a ‘climb out of hell’ moment I can think back to in my upcoming races I think today’s effort will definitely be more useful in those circumstances.
It is one of the best things about running that you don’t have to comply to any external expectations. I think the quote below is a good example of the advantages of this.