It’s Christmas Day and I decide that I am ready to get out running again. I know some of the guys from the Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers (BRW) are heading out to the Fatass Christmas Fun Run on 27 December so I decide to join them. I know the event is a 24km trail run somewhere on Brisbane’s north but don’t bother to check for course information. I realise 24km is a long way but I decide that I’ll be able to make it.
I turn up at the start of the run ready to hit the trail. There are four of us from BRW: James who is super speedy, Craig who always looks fresh after running long miles, Matt who has been training some big miles and me. This is a low-key event so there is no start line and no timing mechanism. We just park our cars off Payne Road at The Gap, mill around a while and head off up a short stretch of road to the start of the trail that will lead us to Mount Nebo.
This is where I realised my mistake. The road and trail went up to Mount Nebo. I tell myself that it won’t be so bad once I get started but by the end of the first 3km I am struggling to keep one foot moving in front of the other. I lose the rest of the runners at about 1.5km, even the other runners reduced to walking up the steep hill. It’s all I can do to keep going.
I’m doing the run / walk shuffle at the 4km mark when I see a fellow runner walking down the track towards me. He looks spent too so I stop to talk with him. Together we walk / run up the trail to the 6km mark where a red esky of ice and water where I turn around to head back to the car while my friend continues on up the track, thanking me for giving him a second wind.
At first I am disappointed with my poor form on the run but slowly I realise that it’s a wake-up call for me. Since my partner’s illness I’ve been letting myself get into a depressed victim headspace after fighting my way out of it. I need to be honest with myself and look at whether my training is working and what goals I need to focus on. But first I need to enjoy the 6km walk / run back to the car; it’s beautiful walking under the gum trees.
I reach the car two hours after I started the run and know it’s going to be a while before the rest of guys return from their run. I lie down on the grass for a kip. After about half an hour two runners turn up. They ran part of the way up to Mount Nebo and then returned to drive to the coffee shop at the top to collect their friends. They give me a lift to the coffee shop so I can catch up with my club mates.
James decides to run the 24km back down the trail to the car while Craig, Matt and I get rides back down the mountain. I listen to Matt and the guys giving us a lift talk about their training. They all do some big milage, which makes me wonder whether I’m really cut out for this long distance trail running or whether I should stick to middle-distance running and triathlon. While we drive home I ask James about his training. He’s a bit of a gun ultra marathon runner so I was surprised that he doesn’t do big milage. Rather, he focuses on making each training session a quality session and on building his strength. It made a lot of sense to me.
While I failed to make the distance this morning I learned a lot:
- I’m more naturally a 5km – 10km runner but I enjoy the longer trail runs so need to select my long trail runs more carefully so that I can enjoy them and have the best chance of success.
- I need to watch my nutrition and hydration in the week leading into a long run, rather than just turning up and hoping to make the distance. My ability to complete the 44.5km at Rainbow Beach was a result of good diet, hydration and rest in the week leading to the event.
- I need to train smarter rather than trying to squeeze out more miles. Smarter training probably means doing some shorter sharper sessions with a longer session at the weekend.
- I am not scared to fail. I’m willing to line up just to see whether I can make the distance and then I’m not the type to get angry with myself if I don’t.