Decision nearly made… :-)

Last week I wrote about my decision as to whether or not I was going to enter Highland Fling: a 53 mile ultra marathon from Milngavie to Tyndrum. 

I said that I’d probably decide after my long run up the East coast of Loch Lomond from Rowardennan on Saturday.

I had four questions for myself, which I’ll try to answer below:

Can I handle the off road / trail running?

I can safely say that, yes I can handle the trail running.  Sure, it’s very different to road running, but I can do it.  I like the fact that the terrain challenges you.  That you can (and have to at points) slow down and it’s not all about speed, and getting finished in the fastest possible time.

You need to concentrate, and try and be free and relaxed at the same time.  I remember saying to myself on Saturday: ‘If you want a challenge, run some of the West Highland Way’

So I’m going to tick this box and say I can handle the trail running, I just need to be careful not to twist my ankle and slow down when I need to slow down.  And maybe get some more experience on the route.

Can I handle the 53 mile distance?

The furthest I’ve ever run was 31 miles, 15 of which was with intense pain in my knee.  It was a training run that I’d set myself and I struggled through to finish.  The worst part of it was when I was 27 miles in.  I could have just run 1 mile home, but I didn’t I made the distance up to 31 miles as planned.  I think that shows that I can keep going. I can keep positive and push myself to finish.

My use of positive mantras helps… and phrases like… ‘I run because I can’, ‘I can do it’, ‘Keep going’, ‘You’re doing well’… all help me to complete long challenging runs. 

Running for 53 miles on the West Highland Way could take between 9-11 hours… the longest I’ve run for is 4:30.  So I don’t know the answer to this.  I think I could run the distance, but I think I need to run maybe 40 miles to get an idea of if I could add on another 13 and finish 53 miles.

I think I have the mental attitude to keep going and hopefully my training would be sensible enough to keep me injury free so that my body could do it too.  Perhaps that’s what a challenge should be?  Something you think you can do, not something you know you can do?

Can I handle the 53 mile off road distance?

What running off road does it change, is the time you will take to complete the distance. 

I ran 31 miles (road running) in 4:30 – that’s 6.8mph.  If I continued to 53 miles (2 marathons) it would take me about 8 hours 53 mile road distance. 

If we look at my off road run from Saturday, I ran 24 miles in 4:30 – that’s 5.3mph.  53 miles at that speed would take about 10 hours (not including any stops for refuelling etc).

Can I run for up to 11 hours?  I’ll need to maybe try and run for 7-8 and see how that feels.  I’d like to try….which leads me onto my next question…

Can I handle the training I’ll need to do for that kind of run?

I think my training for a 53 mile off road run would entail a monthly run on the route of between 20 – 40 miles.  I usually run long on Saturday mornings and like to spend the rest of Saturday (say 12 onwards) with Fit Girl… but if I run for 7 hours (and travel there and back)… I’d be away for about 9 hours. 

Even if I left at 6am, I’d only get back at 3 or 4pm (including stretching, travelling and changing).

I felt it the last long run I went on, and I felt it on Saturday.  I feel that the long runs are taking too much time away from my Saturday with Fit Girl.  So I can’t and don’t want to run say 40 miles on a Saturday morning/early afternoon.  It just doesn’t fit with my life.

53 mile Highland Fling Route

So I got thinking about when I could fit a once a month long run into my life.  I could do it before I teach swimming on a Sunday…. or I could take a day off work (if it’s a really long one).  If I do this, it will free up my Saturday mornings to spend with Fit Girl and keep the time I usually have to myself, as running with myself.

The last question I have is… am I going to enter the Highland Fling?

I think I am 95% sure that I’m going to enter. 😀  I think it’s an ideal challenge for me.  One that I’m not sure I can complete, but one I think I can. 

I think it’s a great challenge that will really push me and if I complete it (and all the training for it) I’ll probably feel like I can do anything!

I just need to iron out a wee training plan which fits in with my life… and I’ll enter.  🙂  Leave it with me…

More than just a sign??

Oh and by the way… my plan on Saturday was to run north from Rowardennan for 2:15, see where I ended up and run back. 

So where did I end up?  Smack bang at the Dario Melaragni Memorial… (the guy who was the race director of the West Highland Way Race before he passed away)… If that’s not a sign for me to enter the Highland Fling – I don’t know what is!!  😉

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