M – MILES a 100 miles is a long way most people’s reaction is “I get tired driving 100 miles & you’re doing it on foot?” true but you must not dwell on the distance, otherwise it can overwhelm. Break it down work from one CP to the next, it’s a good idea to study the distances in advance & carry a note for when the brain scrambles (which it will do) so you know roughly what you are working towards – just bear in mind its trail so will be approximate – don’t get hung up on exact – allow a give or take of half a mile. Likewise, if you can reccy get to know the last 3/5 miles – 100 milers will not be exact, there may be “bonus” miles both on the course & navigation errors (it happens) but if you know a point which is exactly 3 or 5 miles from the finish – it’s your safety blanket you hit that point & mentally you know exactly what you have to do to reach the finish. On a normal day 3/5 miles would seem nothing, but trust me with 95+ miles in your legs it can seem forever – however, if you have run/walked the route you know exactly what to expect (and no navigation errors).
I – INTENT adjective – determined to do (something) – you have done the training you must now trust in that training & your ability to complete the task at hand, before you line up on the start line, allow yourself 5/10 quiet minutes, commit to the finish – no point in thinking “well we’ll see how it goes” make your commitment early – you will finish baring loss of life/limb/or long term injury, know that there will be high & low points – but you are strong what you do today matters, you’ve got this, it might not be pretty in parts but trust me you’ve got it.
N – NUTRITION you will have tried & tested what suits you, but over this period of time your taste buds & stomach will betray you, you may find temperatures are different on the day which will totally screw up your best laid plans. Carry some cash, never underestimate the power of a “callipo” or an ice cold coke! Eat, Eat, Eat – at times you will feel sick, you might even be sick keep eating & drinking – trust me if you can’t eat & drink your race will be over. Don’t worry if you can’t eat breakfast in the morning, just start eating early in the race & don’t stop – most dips & low points in your race will be purely chemical as you are dipping in energy – force feed if you need to. Carry some crystal ginger it’s amazing for settling the stomach, also chewing mint gum really helps, if you have crew get them to pack some breakfast cereal for night time, it’s often the time you have most difficulty eating (because your body is used to being asleep) a bowl of breakfast cereal seems more natural.
D – D, I could go Dreams, DIEHARD or even Diarrhea – but let’s explore DIEHARD so you know how John McClane gets beaten up, shot, blown up but just keeps on coming back for more – that might be how you will feel on your 100 miler. It’s tough and there will come a point where everything hurts, fatigue sets, you might feel sick – the temptation to sit down for longer than you know you should is there, Plan A, B & C might be out the window with Plan D lining up to follow his buddies – but you know, anyone who tells you a 100 is easy is lying it’s not for the Facebook glory hunters, you are on your own – it takes real guts and you need to refer back to intent and just go Diehard on its ass, you’re hurting & in pain even if you stop now you will still be hurting & in pain – stopping will not make it go away instantly, go Diehard keep coming and get the reward, frankly you have nothing to lose but everything to gain. The beauty of the 100, is not necessarily the buckle at the end, its looking back and reliving each & every time you were strong enough to get out of the comfortable chair at the CP
S – SUPPORT if you are thinking crew & pacer – make sure you choose wisely – they are there to support you “S” is also for SELFISH – you need to be in order to finish. There will be a lot for you to contend with and sometimes “going Diehard” means going into your own bubble – the space where putting one foot in front of another is at times all you can focus on – the last thing you need is distractions, your support crew must know that you might not want to stop for a chat despite the fact that they may have been waiting for hours for you to show up – they must also appreciate that they might be seeing you in a very different light, which will vary through the day & night from an over excited nutter to tired, fed up & hanging on by a very thin thread – all of which is normal. If you are running with a mate – discuss in advance, there may come a time in the race where you need to part ways – it’s hard enough, you need to run your own race. Your pacer is not really a pacer at all (unless you are in the top 25 finishers) they are your “water boy” “waiter” “agony aunt” “look out” (if you get caught short on the trail) your best friend & worst enemy defendant on what mood you are in “navigator” & “timekeeper” – they will see you at your best & worst, listen to you laugh & cry (sometimes simultaneously) And they must be prepared to be dropped like a hot potato as soon as you sniff the finish line – regardless of endless hours listening to you sniffle – the finish line glory is yours alone. Choose carefully.
E – EXCUSES, we are all human we make excuses all the time, in fact, we convince ourselves that our excuse is actually a valid reason, a well justified argument for an easier path. In a 100 miler frankly, unless you are in serious danger of life/limb or long term injury or other circumstances which are outside your control – most everything else is just an excuse. I have listened to friends who have dropped telling me “I just wasn’t enjoying it” and I have been there on my first attempt. FACT you are not going to enjoy a 100 miler, if you want an enjoyable weekend – go to a spa/go pub/nice meal – do not attempt to run a 100 miler for the sheer enjoyment. There will be enjoyable moments for sure, great memories, great runners, organizers, volunteers – fun with supporters/crew & pacers – beautiful scenery (on most trail 100 miles) excitement and self-discovery – but there will also be dark moments when you doubt yourself, want to give up – the excuse of being a weekend warrior for enjoyment – and why am I doing this if I’m not enjoying it? Please go back to INTENT & “Go DIEHARD” the funny thing if you give yourself just another mile or just another 30 minutes you will feel differently – most dips are lack of food it’s a purely chemical reaction, likewise the fatigue of running through the night always lifts at daybreak – just give yourself a chance – recognize the excuse it’s an impostor in an otherwise strong mind – just like a cuckoo in a nest it does not belong – stay strong.
T – TENACITY ( Strength of will and determination ) you have the tenacity to stand on the start line of a 100 miler I salute you. You have an opportunity to change your thinking forever, what you do in the coming hours will stay with you forever, you will learn things about yourself which you never knew – you will find strength which you were entirely unaware of. We live in a day to day comfortable world, a sanitized existence, in the next day + you will deal with being uncomfortable and that is where the change will happen, and your true warrior will shine.
Be bold have the TENACITY to commit to the finish – enjoy the opportunity to change, grow – enjoy the adventure & if you do cry like a baby when you cross the finish line –trust me it happens to the best of us – enjoy the bragging rights you have earned them.