Whilst lying on the floor at 2am convulsing uncontrollably as my friend Verity was desperately throwing blankets and jumpers on top of me to stop me losing heat I realised that I’d probably bitten off more than I could chew! I was a mess and I couldn’t make myself stand up or even get my shoes back on. I was 2 and a bit hours and 20km away from achieving my target but I had fallen short once again. I was gutted and mortified that I’d once again spectacularly failed to achieve my personal Everest of running 100 miles in 24 hours. However, looking back on it now a few weeks later, I’m pretty proud of what I achieved and I know that I pushed myself to my absolute limit and raised a lot of money for an amazing charity.
The challenge was to run for 24 hours on a treadmill to raise money for a local hospice. I wanted to try and cover 100 miles in 24 hours and I approached the task with supreme confidence despite only having run a max of 13.1 miles in one go in 2018 and having been on an actual treadmill about half a dozen times. In hindsight, I was a touch over optimistic!!! Obviously I failed but not as miserably as you might expect! Somehow I managed to cover 140k (87 miles) in 21 hours and 45 minutes. This meant I needed ‘only’ to cover another 21k in 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete the 100 miles. This was real progress for me – I’ve tried to run 100 miles in 24 hours before and the first time I got to 80 miles and the second time 90 miles in 24 hours. It’s touch and go whether I would’ve reached 100 – I was power walking at this point at 4.4mph but I was definitely on track for the late 90s and with a little jog at the end I maybe could have scraped it (optimistic I know!) It was at this point that I stopped to fix a blister on my foot, spent too long doing it and ended up lying on the floor covered in blankets shortly after!
2 days after the challenge had finished I was walking fine again and despite a few cuts and blisters on my feet I was back to normal. I didn’t break myself this time – I pushed myself and came up just short. Ok so I know that sounds like the same thing but essentially I managed the run better and I used what I’d learned in the previous attempts to help me improve. It’s the same for any run you do I guess, the more times you do it, the easier it gets. I now know that I can run 100 miles in 24 hours, I know what improvements I need to make and how I would do it if I were to try again. Unfortunately I think I may get divorced if I do ever try it again as it turns out I’m a bit of a burden on the family when I do these kinds of challenges so I may never find out!
Rather than giving a blow by blow account of the whole thing I thought I’d share a few tips about things I think I did right and wrong just in case you guys are planning anything similar:
|Things I did Right||Things I did Wrong|
|I didn’t over-train and I started the challenge refreshed||I didn’t train enough – a couple of 20 mile plus runs 2-4 weeks prior to the challenge would have helped|
|Nutrition – used foods I’d practiced with and were easy to consume on the move. Ensure milkshakes (thanks to the advice of the legend that is Susie Chan) were a great discovery and also the old favourites cadburys fudge and peanut m&ms were awesome. Ordering a pizza two thirds of the way in was genius!||Nutrition for the last half – I struggled to eat at the back end of the challenge. Allie Bailey who is a proper ultrarunner told me that I should have a food pack for each quarter of the race with the same food in each one is a way of making sure you keep your intake consistent. I definitely screwed up in the last quarter and that is probably why I couldn’t get back up again|
|Mixing walking and running early. I actually slowed down a lot for the first 25 miles to try and keep myself feeling fresh and it worked! By 75 miles I still felt pretty strong and this was definitely down to pacing.||Practice – I didn’t practice enough which is almost certainly why I got blisters as my feet weren’t used to the repetitive placement on a treadmill. I also didn’t practice walking enough and I could have walked faster in the early part.|
|Sought advice from experts – people like Luke Tyburski, Allie Bailey and Nikki Love all know what they are talking about and they all helped me along the way including bandaging my feet up! (Sorry Nikki and Luke – I owe you guys BIG time)||Didn’t take care of problems when I felt them. The blister that popped in my shoe and made me stop at the end was actually there for a while. I’d tried to push through it because I was nearing a natural break. If I’d have stopped immediately and done a quick patch up job it might have been ok.|
|Had the right people around me – at this point I have to thank all of the people who sent messages and sponsored but in particular I’d like to thank Debbie Watts, Jude Palmer, Luke Tyburski, Nikki Love, Piers and Verity White for being there as support crew during the event with Susie Chan dialling in too despite moving house! Special thanks has to go to Sharif Owadally though for not only supporting but also plumbing in our washing machine whilst he was there! And of course my long suffering and amazing wife Maddy for continuously feeding and taking care of me.||Stopped. These challenges are about relentless forward progress. Stopping, even for a minute is wasting time. I was really good at this at the beginning and I had less than 6 toilet stops in the whole thing. However in the last section I was stopping every 10k. Making excuses like changing socks, checking my feet, getting food etc. I should have kept to Allie Bailey’s strategy of breaking the race into 4 bits and keeping the legs moving whatever happens.|
I genuinely wasn’t far away this time and I will probably never try it again but it was a great challenge and I learnt a lot about what I am capable of. My brain still thinks I’m capable even though my body keeps letting me down and If I ever convince Maddy to let me try again I reckon I could do it… ?