Two weeks on Saturday, at 10am I start my fourth 100 mile race, the Thames Path 100, with a view to getting my third finish at the distance.
This follows the Thames, as the name suggests, as it meanders between Richmond in South-West London to Oxford.
For months I was not excited about this race. I entered simply to ensure I keep my Western States lottery momentum going and simply need to finish under the cut-off of 28 hours to achieve that. However, as the race has got closer and I study the map I am now firmly excited. The route is hugely historic, starting in our capital and finishing in one of our most beautiful cities. The route passes some major landmarks and the early indications are the fine weather we are experiencing right now might just hang around for a while, meaning less mud or diversions that have dogged this race in the past.
Finishing a 100 miler is never a given by any means and the drop out rate in this race is staggeringly high, considering its low elevation profile, but after a great run at Brazos Bend in December on a similar profile course I feel I should at the very least finish.
Brazos was hot and humid, but to counter that I had no mandatory kit so a similar time would be respectable. That said, I have never felt fitter than I do right now so as my splits show below, I am aiming for a finish of 20 hours as my A plan.
The B plan is sub 24 and the C plan is simply finish and get 4 Western States lottery tickets for December. Finishing will also allow me to re-enter the UTMB lottery in December, where I will have double the chance of this year (as you can see, lotteries haven’t gone my way so far in running…or life, come to that. Still working).
I have also changed my training style quite a bit since Christmas. Namely, I have completely ditched technology and gone back to running for the fun of it, not that I used technology much before to be honest. My philosophy, and whilst I want to improve- don’t get me wrong, is that this is my hobby, so why make it feel like work. I love running and I loathe technology, so I have gone back to basics.
Most people these days follow some kind of plan or have a coach, from the elites through to the mid-pack. They use Strava to compete in training or just map their workouts and use GPS watches. The only thing I occasionally use is a heart rate monitor, but even that is less frequently than before as I know my body better now.
And that is precisely it, whilst I may not be “training” in a conventional way, through getting back to basics I have got to know my body. I know when to push and when to back off as I feel a niggle or my breathing is too hard. I don’t like to let technology dictate the speed I should be running.
Yes, this might mean I am losing time compared with my friends. I ran with Chris Mills recently and he left me for dust with his coaches training plan and Suunto Ambit, which was great to see, so what works for one person may not work for another.
But the thing I have found the most these last few months is I simply love running again and I look forward to every run. I still have days where I lose my passion, but overall I have never found this more enjoyable and so whether I finish in 19:30 or 27:59 in just over two weeks, my one aim is to enjoy a 100 miler.