After the dissapointment of last weeks training (or lack of) I was keen to get back on the trails, I had planned to have Monday to Thursday to rest my knee, then out running Friday to test it out. During those 4 days of rest I was keeping myself on track by doing a lot more research on the race, as well as some mental preparation, If I cant train my body then I will use my time to train my mind.
I’ve been slowly picking each stage of the race apart, estimating how long it will be, coming up with different strategies of how I will handle potential terrain, conditions, and any problems which may occur. I want to be as mentally prepared as I can going into the race. If I can visualise as many scenarios, problems, terrain, and feelings then if they happen in the desert I will be ready!
Alongside visualising scenarios I’ve been motivating myself, drawing on inspiration from internal thoughts as well as external stimulus, I am training myself to be ready for the battle which I’m about to fight, the battle of my mind. Physically I know I’m a top 50 athlete, that’s only half the battle though, it’s when I’m exhausted, out of water, with legs screaming at me to stop, and I still have 10 kms to go, what will I do? These are some of the questions I’m preparing myself for, I have to be ready to tell myself, I’m not tired, I’m not thirsty, I’m not sore, I can go faster, and I will!
Friday came and I set out on an easy 5km run, the knee felt ok, but I was taking it easy and not pushing too hard. I finished the run which gave me some much needed confidence after pulling out of my last 3 runs I attempted. Friday afternoon I went to have my weekly massage, and it was horrible, I was put in so much pain due to tightness around my right knee, there were tears in my eyes (man tears of course)! With about as much compassion as you get from massage therapists, I was laughed at softly, rather than loudly. I was making some noises I’d never even made before, and suffering pain which I didn’t know existed, I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it, and all I’d done was lay down for a little over hour. After eventually slowly rolling off the table and hobbling out to cries of “see you next week” I was ready for a restful evening.
Saturday was another run day, moving up to 10kms, I felt good and my knee had settled down from the torture of the previous days massage. I set out with everything feeling quite good, I felt refreshed, pain free, and very positive (even the rain couldn’t dampen my spirits). Things were moving along nicely until 7kms when I blew up with sharp stabbing pains in my knee, I was reduced to a walk, I stayed calm and thought I would stretch and give it a minute, as I set off again I knew from the onset it was doomed, only managing 10 strides before the stabbing pain returned, I conceded the run was over and slowly walked home. I have spoken with “my team” and we are meeting up this week to discuss the plan of attack, whatever way we go its going to involve pain, and all my mental strength to stay as positive as I can.
With only 3 weeks left before the start of my race, it hasn’t been the best preparation I must admit, but if achieving an elite top 50 finish in the toughest footrace on earth in only your 1st Ultra Marathon race was meant to be easy, everyone would be doing it! With running been put on hold until further notice I must stay positive, confident, and believe no matter what happens, no matter what gets thrown at me, a top 50 finish is where I belong, and where I will finish this 250km race.
“Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the man who wins, is the man who thinks he can.”