Friday, 14 March 2014

On the borderline

Friday, March 14, 2014
So my training for the 60k trail run is finally nearing a completion. Last week around this time I was out on the roads on my weekly long distance run which caused me to reflect a bit on the reason for doing this.

I spent my Friday evening running. 43 kilometres. Alone. In the dark.
Looking in through the windows of the houses I was passing I could see people enjoying a nice Friday evening with their family. It looked cosy and nice. But instead I was out in the dark evening on my own.
I had planned the route from home via Google Maps and transferred it to my Suunto Ambit 2 to ensure I would not get lost. I was planning on doing around 40k. I had taken into consideration it would be dark by the time I would hit the 25k mark, so the last 15k should be on a larger road to avoid dangerous situations. What I had not considered was the shoulder of the road was not that wide. The first 5k went okay as the sun had only just set. However after that it was pitch dark as there were no street-lights. Another thing I had not considered. Running alone in the dark without proper lights/safety west is not advisable. Doing so in a narrow shoulder on a highway where the cars pass you with 90-100 km/h is definitely not advisable. But I tried to keep my spirits high with the fact it was great training as the conditions were far from ideal.

However when I hit a section of about 3 km with a solid incline and rain started to hit my face it was difficult to stay positive. That I had run out of water did not help. And the fact that my watch was reading 35k and I knew I had more than 7k to go definitely did not help. I had been tempted to diverge a bit from the planned route earlier on, to explore a really nice trail. At the time it seemed like a great idea but by now I felt like never running further than 10k ever again...

I was starting to feel really low on energy and my legs were feeling heavy. So I saw no other option than to take out my phone and call my wife. I have never had to drop out of a race and have only had to cut a training run short once, which was due to an oncoming injury from over training. So when I called my wife to tell her I would be late for dinner it was surprisingly easy to decline the offer of getting picked up by her - even though my brain screamed at me, trying to get me to say yes to the offer.

I made it into a populated area, found a house with kind people who would fill my water bottle and I would now be running the last stretch in well known (and well lit) territory.

Getting home after a run like that is special. It leaves me exhausted for a while, but at the same time it leaves me with such great joy and feeling of accomplishment. The purpose of a long run like this is to prepare you for the mind games which will be the major challenge in a long race and I can honestly say it successfully did that. When you are out there alone in the dark with no-one but yourself and the next kilometre ahead of you everything just seems so simple. 

Now I only have about 3 weeks to go before the race, and I can hardly wait to face those inner demons again. I know... the border between being a runner and a crazy person is paper thin - and I may have passed it many kilometres ago.

About the author

I am a 29 year old guy, who just loves running. I also love planning, order and goals. Which is why I am combining all of that into, The First Project..