Monday, October 19, 2009

Reflections from Tooting

It's time for me to stop posting on my 'event specific' 24 hour blog and to move back to this mainstream site, where I plan to share some of my thoughts from the weekend. First, the facts: I completed 250 laps of the 400m track (exactly 100km) at Tooting Bec in 12 hours 28 minutes. I had real problems from about 8 hours onwards keeping any food down, starting getting really cold, and hit a complete low after about 10 and a half hours when I could see no way of carrying on. It was a great surprise that I managed to get going again and for a while was running reasonably well, but within an hour I was heading for yet another low. I decided to cut my losses and stop when I reached the 100 km mark, and this time no-one was able to persuade me otherwise. A day or so further on I am disappointed that I didn't run for the full 24 hours but still don't think there was any way I could have continued: I just couldn't get my head round the thought I would be out there, in the close to freezing temperatures, for another 11 and a half hours, and my body was not prepared to push through the barrier, perhaps because of the lack of food.

Despite the disappointing outcome of the run there were many positives from the weekend. It was great to spend a bit of time with Dave and Lee. The level of support they gave me the whole time I was in London was incredible. Nothing was too much trouble for them, even down to making me my pre-ordered Friday night dinner of pasta and chicken, and my pre-race breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast. Guys, you were just brilliant - you couldn't have made me feel more welcome. I was also really touched by the number of people who sent text messages of encouragement and posted comments on the blog. A particular mention is due to Brian, who travelled down from Milton Keynes with his daughter, and watched the first few hours of the race. Dave has already said it on his blog but I want to say it again here: the WHW family is a very special and close group of people, and I feel privileged to be a part of it.

A couple of members of that family produced outstanding results. Paul Hart ran more than 140 miles to finish in 2nd place, and Aileen Scott ran more than 117 miles to finish 1st lady. Wonderful performances from them both. Congratulations also to Rachel McCuaig, who reached her target of 100 miles - I thought she had dropped out at one stage when I thought I saw her in non-running clothes, but quickly realised I was looking at her identical twin sister who was providing support - and to Ian McCuaig and Ray McCurdy, who both put in their usual gutsy performances.

So what now? I maybe need to have a bit of a rethink, and take on board 'John's' comments which were left on my other blog (Incidentally if John is reading this can you let me know who you are? The comment was valid but I would rather know who had made it. Thanks.)

I think the time has come to rethink what you want to achieve as a runner. In the last 2 years all you have achieved is a giant step backards. ultras, marathons, half marathons, 10k and cross country you are now just average. You are better than this Ian.

There is no doubt in my mind that I have done a lot, probably too much, this year: 7 ultras and a marathon is definitely not a recipe for achieving PBs (unless your name is Richie Cunningham or George Reid...) However there are other factors that affect my ability to achieve faster times, particularly how busy I am at work. I have been running consistently now for almost 20 years, and when I look back at my best spells they have always coincided with periods when I have not been as busy or under the same pressure. I have also felt that my running has not been as good since I left Troon in 2003. Prior to that, I would be down at the club twice a week, bashing out high quality sessions with 5 or 6 people of a similar standard; I don't get the chance to do that now. Also, George and I used to meet up almost every Sunday morning for a long run of between 15 and 25 miles at a decent pace, and we would often go out on a Wednesday night for a tough tempo run of up to 10 miles - some nights we could hardly move because of the gale force wind, but it certainly helped improve both our times.

I plan to have a week or so without running to let my body recover, then have a fairly easy period throughout November. That will give me the chance to have a serious think about my plans and targets for next year.


Anonymous said...

Good effort, I think you're experienced enough to know when enough is enough.

It's tough. Problem is you enjoy these events - they are addictive. I'm finished this year, maybe just step back for a while and give yourself time to fully recover. I think I'm needing the same..I won't though....I'm going to try and take 4 weeks of rest(ish), what that will mean is 4 weeks of swimming, cycling, climbing and running, but no intense sessions, no races, all enjoyment. I enjoy running too much to not run for 4 weeks.

I'm entering races recently and not being 'up' for them, not in a 'yeah lets go' sense, a physical sense. My legs just aren't there.

At the moment I'm taking a step back (after running Snowdonia Marathon at the weekend..season finale) and picking races next year to aim for and get re-motivated after a good training period.

Good luck and don't get too effected, highs aren't highs without the lows.


Iain (Ridgway)

stanb said...

100K is a great achievement at the end of a long season. You have completed a heeluva lot of running this year and a lot of it you reported that you had to push yourself.Time to enjoy a break and come back stronger for next year.


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to post to say "John" wasn't me!

Good advice from Iain R and Stan.

Well done
John Malcolm

Anonymous said...

"It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man
stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit
belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and
sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a
worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high
achievement, and who at the worst at least fails while daring greatly, so that his
place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor
-- Teddy Roosevelt

Andy Cole said...

Hi Ian, just got back from a trip abroad so catching up on your blog. Great effort in the 24 hours, don't beat yourself up about not going further. I don't know the full story but I know what it feels like when you can't eat, you know you've got many miles left in your legs that you just can't access through lack of fuel. It's really frustrating but it doesn't mean you weren't in shape for the run - your long run home and cruising a marathon in under three and a half hours showed that you were up for it - something just went wrong on the day, try to work out what it was. I believe that if you still want to go out and run, then you're not doing too much; it's only if you think it's a chore and not a pleasure that it's worth cutting down. We do what we do because we enjoy it, results are just incidental episodes, some good, some not so great, that happen along the way. All the best, Andy.

Subversive Runner said...

It's a shame the elusive'John', who was so quick to comment on your other blog, has failed to identify himself and elaborate on his comments.

You have publicly placed yourself in the arena of competition and have shamelessly advertised your results- good and, arguably, otherwise.

Despite not achieving what you set out to do you remain in the upper quartile of achievers and I strive to get near your performance. Nobody can remain on an upward trajectory forever or we'd all be Usain Bolt or Jez Bragg and there'd be no such thing as competition.

Don't allow 'John's' comment to bother you, mate. The PB's will still come, the good performances will still come, and no doubt there will still be disappointing performances to come.

Anything that comes easily is pretty worthless.

Thank you for a great weekend, it was my pleasure to have you in my home, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Brian Mc said...

You are anything but average. Comments can come across oddly in text without the attachment of emotion but I am finding it hard to read anything constructive into 'John's' comment.

With a young baby and very busy work I know that life and ultrarunning is a serious juggling act. Sometimes the running performances don't come off as a consequence. Hey ho and c'est la vie. Look to the next challenge but remember 100km ain't exactly poor!

Good to have seen you at the weekend. :-)

Happy Days said...

Good effort and well done on listening to your body and mind and knowing when to stop, its still a hell of a long way, Enjoy some recovery time I am sure you will come back refreshed, get up the ochills with the dogs for a walk.

Tim said...

I think "John" is just pointing out something that could said about us all. We could all achieve more and many of us have performed better in the past but it's not up to John or anyone else to advise a runner rethink their goals.
If you were a pro and he was your coach perhaps, but as long as you're enjoying your running how much time and effort you put into it is your business and no one else's.

Besides, even the best athletes have off days when things just don't go right. Why even Richie Cunningham had a DNF the other day!

Looking forward to catching up with you sometime soon either on the WHW or the RAW.

Anonymous said...

"Besides, even the best athletes have off days when things just don't go right. Why even Richie Cunningham had a DNF the other day!"

With more and more ultra's on the calendar I think many of us are just simply suffering Burn out. I think 'John' has a point in that we can't do it all and expect to perform continuously at the standard we want to.

The thing is we run badly through general fatigue, and our automatic response is train harder, run more. And it's just a vicious cycle and I think a lot of us are in it at the moment.



Debbie Martin-Consani said...

Great report, Ian.

Read from John's comment what you want. Maybe you do take on too much, but that is your choice. And look what you have achieved, taking on the unthinkable.

Debs x