Course profile

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What lies in wait on 2nd July - The 110k course profile

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Getting the hang of it?

It's now just under two months until I undertake what will undoubtedly be the toughest physical challenge I've ever faced and attempt to complete the ultramarathon. A scary thought for sure, but while out again this last weekend for another couple of back to back long runs a strange thought occurred to me: Am I starting to get the hang of this?

Now, I'm not getting overconfident (or in fact, confident in any way). But I am finding that as I increase my long runs to even longer runs I'm beginning to enjoy it more. It certainly hurts more to keep going, but this keeping going is giving a satisfaction all of it's own. I look forward to my long runs now more than my short ones.

I discovered a while back now that I don't feel warmed up until a couple of hours in and after that I start to settle into a sort of rhythm. Not really so much of a physical rhythm, as I tend to slow down and speed up, stop to take pictures, walk up hills and eat snacks and follow interesting side paths just to see where they go, but more of a mental rhythm. Being out running for 5 hours gives your mind time to wander, then settle into a kind of moving meditation where you're just focussed on the simple act of keeping moving on. One step after the other, the minutes turn to hours and the miles slip by. 

The great curve of the Langdale valley ahead, plenty of time to get into a rhythm here ...
They don't slip by unnoticed though. I'm amazed by just how far it is possible to travel on foot, something I knew as figures - after all, everyone knows a marathon is 26 miles - but hadn't ever actually experienced. 20 odd miles feels very different when you cover ever inch of it on your own two legs. It feels epic, in a very real way.

Epic! I'm in this one, on the track right in the middle near the bottom (photo thanks to Janet)
That epic feel is also helped by the landscape I'm lucky enough to be training in of course. I mentioned in my last blog entry about exploring areas I'd not thought to visit before and exploring feels like just the right word, thanks to being on foot. As opposed to vehicular travel you notice so much more from contact with the ground and this feeling of being embedded in and part of the landscape, seeing it change around you is very addictive. It's a real joy to keep moving on and experience what's around the next corner or over the next hill, even if it's on trails I've run many times before.

So, getting the hang of it then? Well, I don't know about physically (that'll only come out on the day) but if I can keep this interest and delight in the journey this will surely give me a great chance of getting round the course.

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