This was me finishing the Sinister 7 100 miler Ultra race last year. I was so elated. Ultra racing is so mental in so many ways! There is a saying that states “ultra racing is 90% mental and 10% mental” and this is really true!
2017 has been slightly different. I entered Sinister 7 and Lost Souls and DNFed them both. I decided that S7 became a training run of 66km and Lost Souls I re-classified myself mid-race to the 107km race (which is only two loops of the course versus three).
To be honest, I did not want either race enough. I know I had not worked enough on my mental preparation during training. However, I have learnt an enormous amount from each race.
1. I can not turn up for a 100 mile race and expect to finish. Yes, I had completed the same if not more training miles over the months leading up to the Sinister 7, but I had not mentally prepared myself for the challenge.
2. I have race new races and I can not complete loops. My brain will not cope with running repeats of a lap. I enjoy doing point to point races far more because I feel a sense of accomplishment.
3. Trying to get points to enter the UTMB was not enough to encourage me to finish. I have to have a desire, in fact a need to finish.
4. I have realized I don’t care for the t-shirts, medals or any extrinsic elements to a race. For me I have to have an intrinsic reason why. I think this year I had a slight light bulb moment in Lost Souls. I realized I was racing because my mother has a mental illness and I wanted to prove myself. This last year, I have accepted that I am not a victim and I have come to terms with my Mother’s condition. It was a very inspiring moment.
However, I do know I love running far, I love running in the mountains and I love running by myself. Running helps re-set my brain and re-charge me.
So next time I enter a race, I will ensure I have a good reason “why” and ensure my intrinsic reasons are motivational and I have the desire.