There's a certain element of self-torture to ultra-running, a preternatural exploration of the limits as to what is and isn't possible. It's a sport that attracts everyone from housewives, recovering junkies/alcoholics, lawyers, business men, pastors, hippies, and so on. In the years I have been involved in the sport I have met every conceivable type of person who all have a single goal in common – to break through the pain barrier, into agony and find the untapped resource that lies where few dare to go. So taking all this into account, January is the time of the year when aforementioned sadists start looking at racing calendars where a marathons are viewed as training runs. I liken it to drunk dialing in a way, it seems like an incredibly good idea at the time “Ah sweet man, there’s a 100 miler in August”. Thousands of training miles are put in and by the time one gets to mile 70 of that 100 miler, the cursing commences. The verbal self-flagellation starts to drown out the voice of reason that got you into this mess in the first place “What is wrong with me, why do I keep coming back for this shit, why can't I just run a 10k like a normal person and be happy with that? At that point the legs are no longer dictating the game, it is entirely mental from here on in.
I have not been fortunate enough to have that giddy, nervous, calendar-scrolling feeling in the pit of my stomach in well over a year. 2012 was mostly spent healing various wounds of the body and the heart. Physical fitness is one thing, but to commit to a season where pain and devotion will factor highly takes razor sharp focus and almost arrogant self-belief. When the feet give up, the mind must take over. My training has been sporadic at best due to other commitments and not really having a goal to aim for. When I am aimless I struggle with who I am and where I am going, my recycle bin of a brain has had a major data dump and I envision racing well for the year ahead. I have chosen three key races that I think are not only runnable but can be run well and tactically. The first one will be the 50km Trail du Josas, it's in April and close to home. I have run the 40km event in previous years and it is by far tougher than any 100km I have contested in the past, hill training and pacing will be the keys to a fun day in the hills. My second event will be the Sri Chinmoy 100km in the forest of Vincennes in mid June. Depending on how my form is coming into the summer I will hopefully be in Connemara for the outstanding 100 miler they put on in mid August. It's a splendid course and draws some top talent. What's most important, at this exact moment as my fingers tap the keys, is that I can visualise the races and also the early mornings and late nights that are crucial in getting back to the level I was at eighteen months ago. Once I retain a Conceive, Believe, Achieve mentality I can accomplish all of these ambitions, and much, much more.