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Mar 11 2013

Distance conditioning – a wonderful feeling

When you set out on a programme that pushes the boundaries of anything and everything you’ve ever done before, you can’t help thinking “I’m never going to get there”!

AirForce22

AirForce22 – A circular route through RAF Benson

Looking down my training programme for my 100k race, and the first tough weekend was 13 weeks into the plan and it involved back-to-back daily runs of Friday – 9M, Saturday – 18M and Sunday – 20M. In the past, I’ve only ever done a 20M on a Sunday with a light run Friday and Saturday.

So it was with great trepidation that I set out gingerly on Friday’s 9M run, and followed it up on Saturday with an equally leisurely and deliberately slow 18M – trying not to create any muscle-damaging lactic. I felt pretty good Saturday afternoon with no major problems, so it looked promising for Sunday’s 20M.

In the back of my mind, I was thinking “I’ve run 27M in 2 days before – but tomorrow, I’ll be forging new ground”.

So Sunday morning’s alarm was set for 5:20am, to give me 40 minutes to wake up and prepare before leaving at 6am. And leave at 6am, I did.

The opening 100m was turgid, as expected, feeling like I had particularly heavy legs. I never usually warm up… using the first few miles gently running as a suitable warm-up. And the first five miles continued in much the same vane, expectedly difficult.

As the run progressed, however, fatigue seemed to diminish and a calm serenity descended on my early morning running exploits… and I actually began to enjoy it. The more I allowed my mind to drift into a reflective almost meditative state, the more I realised how my training programme was providing the most energising conditioning. It really was (and is) a wonderful feeling.

So much so that at a junction familiar to me at 15M, I had a choice of going 5M to home, or 6.8M to home… and I willingly picked the latter.

So what kind of morals did this teach me?

Firstly, that you really have to believe when you set on an audacious challenge, that your training programme will serve you well.

And secondly, and possibly more contentiously, that your mind is the weakest part of your character, NOT your body.

For a billion years life has been evolving the most complex biological system which was generously bestowed to you by your parents at your birth… and it stays with you your whole life. Your body won’t let you down – it’s you who wiull let you body down. The frailties of the mind will let your body down and allow it to decay into a sad and sorry state.

The excuse I hear most often about why somebody doesn’t run is “my body wasn’t built for running” as they sit their cavernous 18 stone bulk down on the sofa for another helping of dinner. What they really mean was “my mind wasn’t strong enough to take the difficult path and use this fantastic machine I was given at birth.” The irony of claiming that your body is not built for running is tangible – your mind is what has failed to adapt to running, your body is still a truly remarkable peice of engineering.

Maybe I shouldn’t get moralistic at all and instead just reflect on how great it feels to knock out a meagre 48 miles in 48 hours and have no ill-effects.

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