One step at a time
On the weekend I finally completed a challenge I've been focussed on for a long time now, my first 100-mile ultra.
Me and my belt buckle - 100 miles in one day
I took on this challenge two years ago, started training 18 months ago, and had the event postponed twice in 2020 due to COVID. But I stuck with it, rebooted each time, and finally crossed my finishing line around 3am on Sunday morning.
As you can imagine my 22+ hours on the trails over the weekend gave me plenty of time to think, and among many things going through my mind was the recurring question "why the hell I was doing this?"
And the answer I came up with my sound trite, but it's the same thing I said to anybody who asked me this question over the past year and a half... because I didn't know whether I could, and the idea of trying scared the hell out of me.
I truly believe if you achieve all of your goals in life then you're not setting your sights high enough. Only be pushing ourselves to do things that we think we might fail at do we truly learn more about ourselves.
So off I set at 4.45 on Saturday in Winchester aiming to keep moving for 100 miles and hopefully arriving in Eastbourne for a victory lap of the running track within 24 hours, not knowing if I would even get there in one piece.
Yes, I trained hard and consistently.
Yes, I planned the race thoroughly including my kit, nutrition, pacing and crew.
Yes, I prepared the mind as well as the body by talking to others who had "been there and got the t-shirt... and belt buckle".
But what I believe ultimately got me to my goal was an ability to break my challenge down into manageable chunks that, if done correctly and in the right order, would help me achieve the bigger prize.
Set a training plan - start training - complete the first week - complete the first phase - plan the race - put a support team together - get my kit ready - turn up on the day - start the race - take it one mile at a time (x100).
When you say it all together it sounds daunting, but pick them off one at a time with a laser-like focus on that single element and suddenly it all seems that much more realistic.
This is exactly what we need to do when training for any goal that is going to really challenge us. We need to break it down in to smaller, more manageable goals. We then put these together in a logical sequence that, when put end-to-end will lead us to glory.
So next time you think something is out of reach - be that a C25K programme, your first 10km or even an ultra - just start take that first step, then the next, knowing that each one gets you that little bit closer to the thing you desire.
I work with athletes across the full spectrum to help them break down their goals in to training plans that fit around their lives, helping them achieve amazing things through sustainable training. Drop me a line if you'd like to have a chat about your own ambitions and I how I might be able to help.
If you're interested, you can read a more detailed account of how I broke down my 100 mile race along the South Downs here.