Ciara Davies is taking on her first ultra marathon, she will be keeping us up to date with all the highs and lows of training for Race to the King in a series of blog posts.

“Chapter 3, in which the penny drops (actually there is an avalanche of pennies shattering my beautiful world of delusion). I found it difficult to write the first part of this installment without swearing. To add an air of authenticity to my voice, please feel free to add a smattering of the worst curses you can think of to the following paragraph.

Better, stronger, faster?

In the last few weeks, I hit the point where everything was just too much effort. Time was squeezed by a whole lot of circumstances (some unforeseen/ some due to my own unfounded optimism about what I can achieve in a given period of time). I did my training, mostly hating it. Running all the time can be really boring!! I was hobbling around on achy legs, feeling less fit than when I started this whole enterprise. Surely after all of this effort, I should be springing about on my new jet-powered legs, speeding up hills (what hills?) with a grin on my face, a blazing red aura of invincibility surrounding me?

Ciara boxing

Impossible is possible

Everybody goes through times when it all seems impossible and it can be so easy to get wrapped up in negative feelings. The harder the training gets, the more any weaknesses and imbalances in your body are exposed and the more keenly you experience the outcome of all of the lifestyle choices you make. You are on a steep learning curve and oh my god it feels like crap, but this is the part where you get stronger if you persevere.

There is only one course of action at these times and that is to breathe and keep putting one foot in front of the other (literally and metaphorically). Think about what is possible in your circumstances and find your own way through. Here is mine:

 

The Ideal The Reality The compromise
Recovery is as important as the exertion part. Give yourself adequate rest time to build your muscle strength. Sitting down in the evenings apart from when actually eating/wrestling James to brush his teeth or take medicine is not an option. Sleep is not always an option either. Do any sedentary work lying on a bed. (Clients: I refer you to the work of Proust, Wordsworth and Frida Kahlo as evidence that this does not limit mental agility!)
Stretch as often as you can I have no patience for stretching. I have clients to respond to, a costume to make for a school play, a hamper to put together for one PTA and a fair to help organize for another, village church locking duty and God only knows what else I have promised to do that I have forgotten about. Over-stretched, absolutely! Bendy and serene, not a chance in hell. I am already the annoying running evangelist hanging around the school playground, wearing more lycra than my physique reasonably calls for. I might as well go the whole hog and do a few stretches any time I am waiting around or stop for a chat. Well, if you can’t laugh at yourself…
Eat properly OK so I can whip up a super food smoothie that will give my body everything it needs to thrive in a matter of minutes, but I can unwrap and eat a Chunky Kit Kat in less than 30 seconds. Eat what you want, but at the very least give your body what it needs to exert itself and then recover properly. For me 4:1 powder mixed with water during a long run and skimmed milk after is miraculous stuff. I feel less fatigued on long runs and there is a lot less hobbling with pitiful sound effects afterwards. It is also pretty good for hangovers. (I wonder what would happen if I mixed it with gin?…)

 

Doing it my way

So a bit of perseverance, some pep talks from Kerry and my lovely running pals, and a massive blow-out of a weekend later, this is not the tale of woe that it was shaping up to be. I will never do this thing like a pro, but I will do it one way or another and on my own terms. I am, once again, the Don Quixote of the ultra world.”

 

To read about Ciara and her first steps in to the ultra running world, read her first blog here.

Kerry is a run performance coach who works on the principal that we’re all much more capable than we believe. Support, motivation and structured training from Kerry will allow you to reach for new horizons and dream bigger than you did before. For more information please visit www.kerrysutton.co.uk