I recently took part in my first long distance running event, a 52km ‘ultra’ marathon in the Peak District. It was a great experience and brought excitement, nerves, a degree of anxiety and, ultimately, a great deal of satisfaction. Five days later I’m left thinking “I actually did that, and what’s more, I feel okay!”. I’m happy to admit that, with 1 or 2 kilometres left, I cried a few times. Just a few small blubs, rather than full on wailing, but it felt quite overwhelming and oddly euphoric. I think this was the realisation that I’d completed, or was about to complete not only the run, but several challenges I’d set for myself, professionally, personally and physically. Added to the sense of satisfaction was also a feeling of knowing some rest was approaching, not just in running terms, but in life, emotionally and perhaps spiritually. Big changes have taken place over the last six months or so, things that I’ve wanted to happen, yet which required a lot of thought and effort. So, now I’m into my ‘rest’ period and I’m trying to resist the urge to go and sign up for another, ‘bigger and better’, challenge, though the pull is quite strong! I think it wise to let the dust to settle and allow some new ideas and goals to develop ‘organically, without too much thought.
So, what have I learned from the run? Well, it’s about process and taking charge of what’s within my control. I genuinely didn’t know if I could complete the distance as it was significantly further than anything I’d done in training, which had to fit in with my other commitments (primarily family and work), but by living healthily, concentrating on sleep, food, rest and listening to my body, I was able to complete the challenge. During the run I focussed on keeping to my own pace, listening to the feedback my body provided, and tried to maintain clarity of mind. From a broader perspective I realised that when a process is followed and good habits are developed, over a prolonged period of time, great results are not only achievable, but highly likely.