Just before Christmas I wrote about my first foray into fell running ahead of a trail marathon I’ve optimistically decided to undertake this year. It was a hard, somewhat humbling, lesson in just how different (and how much harder) running on uneven terrain is in comparison to running on tarmac. My Dad, a seasoned fell runner, assures me that I’ll grow to love running off road and although I’m sure that’s true, right now I’m feeling more than a little bit nervous about the challenge ahead.
If it was a road marathon I don’t think I’d be feeling quite this level of nerves although obviously, 26.2 miles on any terrain is still an epic distance to run. But I think it’s the fact that my speed will be so much slower than makes me worried. For long distance on road, my pace is probably about 9.5 minutes/mile meaning that for a marathon I’d be running for around 4 and a half hours. On trail however, I think my pace is more likely to be 12 minute miles meaning that potentially I could be running for around 6 hours (or more). It just seems like a ridiculously long stretch of time to be moving without stopping. I have absolutely no idea how the ultra marathon runners do it.
Upon expressing said concerns to Dad (who I’ll be running with), he reassured me that as long as I do enough training then I’ll be fine. In my heart of hearts, I know he’s right. But there’s so much more to training that just the running itself. As with a lot of things, a holistic, wider approach is needed. I need to eat right, sleep right (did you hear that boys?!) and have a positive mental attitude as well as making sure I get some longer runs and hill training in. So unfortunately for those around me, it might mean that I’ll be living, breathing and sleeping this marathon for the next six months. Apologies to my friends and families if I start to become a bit boring! On the whole I think it’s a good thing though.
Through the training I’ll be able to foster a healthy body and mind and surely that can only have a positive impact in everything else I do. It took me a while though to remember that it is rare to face a challenge and succeed if you adopt a one dimensional approach. This challenge has been a real learning curve but it’s seeping into other areas of my life as I remember to tackle any issues I face (be them big or small) from many angles rather than just head on. As someone who tends to jump in with both feet first and think later, this is definitely a helpful lesson. So I promise to not write about it every week but hope that you’ll forgive me if I do come back to it here in my column a little over the coming months. Have you set yourself any big challenges for 2017? I’d love to hear all about them!