Being successful when failing – my Robin Hood 100 experience

If you don’t achieve your goals can you still be successful?

 

Sometimes the hardest decisions to make in life are the rights ones to pursue.

I’m not one to stay in my comfort for too long in life, I love throwing myself into the unknown and where I quite literally have no idea how I’m going to get through, past, or over whatever I have set my sights on.

Why?

For the simple reason that I continually want to learn, grow, and be the best version of myself. I constantly ask myself the following question on a daily basis.

Can you be better Luke?

It’s not that I’m not happy with where I’m at in life, what I’ve achieved, or learnt, but I truly belief I’m capable of so much more, and hungry to see what that looks like!

Taking my above thoughts in mind, when I spoke to Ronnie from Hobo Pace Events who organise The Robin Hood 100 ultra-marathon about doing his race, I knew I was cutting my preparation time extremely short to be fit enough to cover the 100 miles (160 kilometres) of trails. I was recovering from shoulder surgery, hadn’t even started running yet, and could have easily not accepted his offer to be part of this exciting race.
Instead, I saw an opportunity to experiment with my training, and see what I could learn from the experience.
Rather than applying the traditional way of training for an ultra-marathon, or anything in life to be honest of little by little, step by step, and being consistent everyday to achieve your determined goal, I opted for what may seem like more of a cavalier approach.

I committed myself with absolute conviction to completing this 100-mile race on less than 10 runs of more than one hour in length since my surgery in April. I would never prescribe this way of training to a client, but I was intrigued all the same to try it out on myself.
My final months preparation for the race consisted of quite literally only five runs; a four, two, six, and seven and a half hour trot. I did no strength or any type of cross training. I literally ran, stretched, had massages to aid recovery, ate good quality food, and most importantly got plenty of sleep!

I knew it was a long shot to work, as I was setting myself up to not having a big enough aerobic base, while being over trained and under rested in the immediate lead up to race day. This was stepping into the unknown, and although I had a fair indication of probably what was going to happen, my mind wasn’t completely made up on what I believed the actual outcome could be.

My goal was not only to finish this extreme test of endurance, but also to do so in less than 20 hours. With this as my goal, I had to pace myself accordingly.

Being successful when failing

The race began with a brief countdown, and the out of ordinary occurrence of Ronnie (the race director) actually running the first few miles with everyone to limit our chances of getting lost navigating through the fields over the first few miles. No one got lost as the course was extremely well marked, and Ronnie’s instructions at the race briefing were on point! The next stretch was along a picturesque canal, weaving its way through the countryside. I constantly kept my pace in check, keeping my ego quiet as runner after runner overtook me.
I passed several aid stations well stocked with food, drinks, and smiling volunteers who cheered me on, with their enthusiastic encouragement making me smile. After nearly four hours of running I met up with my crew, Warren and Erica co-founders of 33Shake and my wife Vanda. These three were part of my Ultimate Triathlon crew, they know me, and what I need to complete the most extreme endurance challenges.

Five, six, and seven hours went by as I jogged, shuffled, and occasionally walked through Sherwood Forest. I didn’t see Robin Hood, or any of his merry men, just plenty more smiling aid station volunteers as I clocked up more and more miles.

Then it happened.

Any energy that was stored in my legs completely evaporated in an instance, they were done!

My lower limbs were sore, heavy, and in some pain after five, six, and seven hours of running (I am human after afterall) but this sensation was different. It’s as if my energy supply had been cut off, and there was nothing my willpower, mental strength, or anything else could do to keep me going, unless I dug into my reserves.
I know all too well what this feels like, the thing is though, using this type of energy comes at a cost.
Increased chance of injury, compromising the Central Nervous System(CNS), and a large drain on adrenal function.

The Robin Hood 100 was my first big event in two years, its taken me that long to recover from The Ultimate Triathlon which left me with extreme adrenal fatigue, and a slightly “stunned” CNS; I wasn’t prepared to bury myself in that dark hole again just for the sake of a race I wanted to do because it looked like fun! I felt and looked (as Warren pointed out) quite rough after 80 kilometres, and a couple of hours later as I reached a checkpoint with my crew waiting nervously to see what state I would be in, we all knew a decision had to be made.
With offers of a hot drink, warming soup, or many others types of food from the aid station’s volunteers, my team and I discussed if it was worth me putting myself further into a state of fatigue & prolonging my recovery post race, and risking my long term health.

I hate giving up, but sometimes the hardest decisions to make in life are the rights ones to pursue.

With just under 40 miles (60 kms) to cover, I knew it was pointless taking another step further unless I intended to finish the race. My mind was in a good place; it was strong, happy, and willing to drag my body for what was looking like another 10 hours of shuffling through the night, but my team and I knew this would be pointless. After a brief discussion, we decided that I would retire from what had been a memorable day of running through fields, along a canal, and around an enchanted forest. I met many amazing people both competing in the event, and helping it run smoothly.

Although I didn’t achieve my goal of running a sub 20 hour Robin Hood 100, or even finish the event itself, I still feel my day was a huge success. I’ll take some time to reflect on my training experiment, the 12 hours of running I did complete, and how I was able to listen to the whispers of my tiring body.

With that said, I’d like you all to think about the following question, and look at different times in your own life where you think you’ve failed.

If you don’t achieve your goals can you still be successful?

Throughout the day I posted many Instagram stories to share what I was going through, the scenery I saw, and what I was thinking as I ran all day long.

Here is my recap of the day.

Luke

 

Leave a Reply