1 day, 24 hours, 1440 minutes and 86,400 seconds. When you break it down like that is doesn’t seem so long…and only 6 maybe 6.5 laps – my goal distance – when you put it like that it doesn’t seem so bad. This, breaking down of time or laps is one of the ways I rationalise ultra marathons.
100 miles, on a 10km loop – that’s only 16 laps, 200 miles on the same loop, only 32 laps…rationalise, diminish, make manageable for the mind so that the body can follow.
The reality, that one day on Roys Peak, ended up being around 120km, 8 laps, 10,000 metres of vert. Those 16 laps – 160km and the 32 laps – yup, that will be 320km.
But still, I sit here and say only 24, 16…32.
We joke, about how the sense of time and distance has become warped, how the ‘100-mile’ is the ‘new marathon’, how we seek to go ever longer and faster, to see what we can achieve.
It’s only XX,XXX metres of vert we say as if the climbing is no-thing.
We need to play these mental mind games to do what we do. If we think about the enormity of the task we are taking on we might not take the first step. The diminishment is not a means to devalue what we do, I think, for me at least, it’s a coping mechanism to allow me to take on challenges that I do.
But these things we do, they are amazing, and once they are done we need to be able to acknowledge the distance and the vert – to play it up. We need to celebrate and realise just how much we have actually achieved, just how hard our bodies and minds worked and just how amazing the human mind, body and spirit is.
So, as I sit here and minimise my latest challenge of 200 miles, reduce it to laps or trips through the aid station, the total distance figure of 320km some abstract concept sitting just outside the bounds of where my brain can wander, know that I do so to make the challenge manageable, to quell the fear so that I am able to take the first step, and then each step after until the job is done.
Naseby 2021, 200 mile, 32 laps, here I come.