It has been a while since I have written something here, mainly because I didn’t really have too much to say. This year has been a bit of a write off on the running front, which is OK I guess as we can’t keep going further, higher, faster forever and sometimes life gets in the way.
Not running much means that Helen and I have spent a lot of time this year helping out at races either marshaling, sweeping or just generally doing what needs done to make a race happen.
I am lucky enough to have some interesting races lined up for next year: London Marathon, Miwok 100, and West Highland Way take care of the first half of the year. Hopefully another trip to Chamonix for UTMB week in August as well. This has helped restore my motivation, and touching wood, I have had a consistent few weeks slowly building a base for next year’s big efforts.
A couple of hours on the trail yesterday gave me the headspace to reflect on what I have learned this year from all the watching I have done. So what lessons have I learned about what makes successful ultra runners?
- Unless you are at the very sharp end success is not defined by where you finish, that is often down to age and genetics, it is how you finish that defines success.
- You can’t bluff it. If you haven’t done the training, it will come back and bite you on the bum.
- Happy runners are successful runners. Those who smile and chat and enjoy the experience do much better than those who huff and puff and toil.
- Successful runners plan carefully, but are flexible and roll with whatever the day throws at them. They don’t over think kit and nutrition.
- Stress kills performance. Doesn’t matter whether it is work stress, personal stress or race stress, but too much of it and you can’t train or race successfully. See point 3.
- Successful runners are lean. No getting away from it, excess weight kills performance. That doesn’t mean you have to be skinny to run, and plenty runners carry too much weight (me included), but being at your optimum weight undoubtedly helps.
- Successful runners race judiciously. Too many people suffer from FOMO and do too many races or races which are a step beyond their current capabilities. See point 5. and point 2.
- Successful runners are consistent. They train consistently and build up carefully and steadily to their races. Too many people end up in a cycle of boom and bust, playing catch up from injuries, doing too much, then getting hurt or burning out. See points 2, 3, 4 and 5.
My prescription for myself for 2016 therefore is:
Train patiently, manage work/life balance better, lose weight and the hardest of all – smile more and enjoy it!