I have actually run a bit less than usual these past two weekends. All things considered, that’s probably not a bad thing in terms of letting my body recover and adapt. I spent this past weekend visiting and, on Saturday morning, I sneaked in a 10 mile run in the Quarrel Wood on the outskirts of Elgin.
Upon wakening I immediately questioned the sensibility of running due to a sharp pain in my right calf, most likely the result of overdoing a barefoot run 2 nights previously. However, I did go for the run, soon ran off the pain, and had one of those runs where you are truly thankful you went.
The Quarrel Wood was virtually on my doorstep for so long through my childhood years and yet, as a non runner, I never saw their true potential.
Returning to the woods with a different perspective, I ran trails up and over, through and around the woods. It was a frosty, sunny morning and, stopping on the far side of the woods, I was aware of steam rising from my entire body! To say that I had a blast would be an understatement – I came across a 4000 year old henge that I did not even know existed and, probably ‘the’ highlight of the run, a ‘face to face’ with a deer as I appeared suddenly from around a corner. Startled, the deer instantly took off as I watched, wishing I too could perfect such a gracious style of running!
I will definitely be returning to the Quarrel Wood for a longer session some time soon.
Saturday’s session also took my January mileage over the combined mileage for both January 2010 and January 2011 so, all in all, not a bad start to the year!
With two evening runs still to come before we reach the end of the month, I will also comfortably ‘beat’ my highest ever monthly mileage total. Given that the past two weekends have been devoid of long runs, I am more than happy with that!
Relentless Forward Progress
I have been reading the excellent Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons by Bryon Powell
According to the blurb on the Amazon page, “Bryon Powell is a former Washington, DC, attorney who left his job to devote himself to running ultramarathons full time. He publishes the popular trail running and ultrarunning website iRunFar.com, and competes in ultras nationwide.” I will wager there are at least a few of you who have just read that and thought ‘wow, cool!’. I know I did! All the more impressive when you consider the career that Bryon left behind.
But back to the post!
Working my way through the book I found myself chuckling away to myself. There is a chapter in the book that discusses FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out!
To quote the book:
“As you become aware that you’re capable of running vast distances, especially through gorgeous locales or with new and interesting running companions, you may continually add outings and events to indulge your physiological, spiritual, and social desires. While such desires are wonderful motivators, FOMO can leave you taking on additional events without consideration of traiing benefit or adequate consideration of physiological cost.
If you find yourself unable to decline invitations for a group run, you might have FOMO. If you’re unable to resist signing up for every race, you might have FOMO. If you miss a holiday meal to run, you might have FOMO. Beware of FOMO.”
On the basis of the above, I have self diagnosed myself. I have FOMO!
I live in a small town called Ellon in the North East of Aberdeenshire. I moved here approximately 4.5 years ago and, I have to say, I totally love living here. I am a couple of hundred yards away from forest trails and just over a mile from an old railway line, The Formartine & Buchan Way, which provides me with miles of off-road tracks on which to train.
Another benefit of living in Ellon is the local race, The Ythan Challenge, an 11k (approx.) mixed terrain event (road, trail, forest, mud, river) with a considerable number of obstacles thrown in along the way – everything from hay bales, cargo nets (up & over, and under!), tyres, mud pits (guaranteed to claim at least a few trainers each year! Lose your momentum for a fraction of a second and you require assistance in being hauled out!) and even the river from which the event derives it’s name – the Ythan.
Last year, participants found themselves up to their necks in the cold waters of the Ythan not once but twice! No one minds the water though. Having clambered up and down mud caked hills, often resorting to using fingertips to help claw your way up and bums on the way down, the thought of getting a good wash is pretty appealing! It’s also a good way to get rid of the stench if you have spent too long stuck in the mud pit!
The route and obstacles vary from year to year and, I would be so bold as to suggest, it could possibly be the most fun you can have whilst running! For a good number of people it is their one and only run in the year.
Last year the event sold out in 4 days. This year, it sold out in 4 hours, despite an increased capacity!
My heart sank when the date for the 2012 Ythan Challenge was announced. It takes place 6 days before my attempt at the 95 mile West Highland Way Race!
This is where FOMO kicks in!
I knew when the entry was scheduled to open and, thanks to a job that sees me ‘attached’ to a PC for most of the day, I was in the best position to get my application in.
Sensible me did wonder about the sensibility of entering an obstacle course based event less than a week before my main race of the year.
FOMO me considered those thoughts and then blatantly disregarded them. ‘This is my local run, it’s a short one, it’s fun, and there’s no way I am missing out!’
So I entered! Or at least I tried to.
Due to the volume of applications, my attempt failed.
It turns out that people spent in excess of an hour attempting to get their application accepted.
In the interim, my sensible side broached the subject on Facebook:
“Ythan Challenge the week before the 95 mile West Highland Way Race – tempting injury or not? Is an 11k obstacle course the best preparation for the WHW – probably not, but it is my ‘local’ run and I have done it the past 5 years! Choices, choices!”
Responses came in promptly ranging from:
“Do it! It will be a nice gentle warm up, both mentally and physically for the WHW Race.
Or – coming off a hay bail, you’ll break your ankle.
“Think of the goblet!!” (In reference to the crystal goblet awarded to all finishers)
“Don’t be stupid!” (Thanks Mike!)
As it was, the pangs of doubt set in long enough for the event to sell out, thereby taking the matter out of my hands entirely.
If truth be known, I was erring on the side of caution but the early closing of applications helped to take the matter entirely out of my hands.
I still have FOMO – what if it is the best one, EVER!
I will still miss the event but I know that it would be too risky to attempt it. There is too much going in to the WHW Race to even think of jeopardising my chance in what will already be a tremendously tough race.
Thanks to my wife Leanne, and to my friends for showing more sense than I did.
I have FOMO, there is no doubt about that, but I am now getting help!
It is really easy to try and run everything and anything. However, other than the financial cost of entry fees, accommodation, transport etc and the potential strain on relationships with friends and family, there may well also be a cost to your health. Another aspect of the book is an emphasis on the need for adequate rest and recovery.
So how best to accommodate this: target a key race or races and set out a suitable training plan to help you reach your goal. This may involve other races along the way but only do this if they will add to your training plan i.e. if your plan suggests a race of X miles on a particular week, you could run in an event of X miles. However, it is recommended that you merely run in the event rather than race it. If a race does not fit in with your plan, then don’t do it, regardless of how much fun it is!
I hope that everyone who was fortunate enough to secure a place on the Ythan Challenge has a cracking day. I will be back in 2013 (But only if I am not running the West Highland Way Race again!)
S**t Ultra Runners Say
I came across the following video the other day on Facebook. I had to laugh as I realised how typically running centred my conversations have been of late. I thought it would be hit or miss when I played it to the wife but, when she even found it hilarious, I realised I had a problem lol! Worth watching for the laugh.