This week, I deferred and dropped out of two races. Any time this happens there is the inevitable day or so of my brain tutting and muttering ‘quitter’ at me. But, truth be told, I’ve done it so many times now, it doesn’t affect me much anymore, here’s why.
Once you’ve graduated past the toe dipping phase of marathoning and ultra running. It becomes clear there is more planning necessary than ‘turn up and leg it’. If you have plans to race any of the major marathons, you need to have made this decision almost a year in advance, apply for ballots, run qualifying times etc. Race entries are, by their very nature, speculative. For the amateur runner anyway. You guess that you’ll be available on a given date or time, then you guess the time you’ll run on that date.
I’ve had a very fortunate start to the year, in that I’ve been able to put in a really solid block of training for Liverpool Marathon. My plan was to race there, then run Race to The Tower 50 mile in June, then run NDW 100 mile in August. This was all concocted some time in 2018, with no idea what would unfold between now and then.
Since entering, I’ve been offered work abroad between June 4th-July 8th. There goes RTTT, (If anyone wants to pay me the same amount to run RTTT, I’ll re-enter). I’m then away from the 11th-21st July. One of the things I say often when people ask about doing their first marathon (people don’t ask me this often, but I think this is what I would say) is that you should view your training as preparation to help you enjoy the day. The more you put in, the more you will enjoy the day.
I have run 50 miles before, I have run 100k before. I know I can run 100 miles. But I respect the distance, and I know it will be utterly awful if I go into it undercooked, possibly so bad that it will put me off doing it again, which kind of defeats the point.
There is an often used quote on distance running. Humble yourself, or the marathon will do it for you. Or something like that. Anyway, it sounds grandiose and pompous, but I promise you it is true as shit! don’t ask how I know.
If the marathon will humble you, I’m assuming 100 miler will humble you, then kick you in the sack….then push you in a bush and spit on you, all for a little over £100.
My point is this, there is no shortage of go all out all of the time, no days off, rest is for pussies rhetoric all over social media. But from what I can see, the people who really last, and perform well are the ones who train and race smart. This is particularly relevant to those of us holding down a job outside of running, for whom running does not pay the bills.
I have to admit, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted when I deferred these races. Now I’ll have a proper rest after Liverpool, without trying to squeeze in training in France for 50/100 miles, then having to go on 4-5 hour runs whilst on Holiday in July. I’ll come back fresh and ready to begin the build up to the Great North Run, Frankfurt and NYC, rather than fried from two extra months burning the candle at both ends.
Anyway, I’m off for a nap because I’m a weak minded quitter.
Happy running, O.