Josh “Goggins” Stevens is training for the UTCT 100 Miler trail ultra-marathon in Cape Town with no prior ultra-running experience. This is his fourth training diary entry. Read the series here.
Where Are We At?
Months of training, hundreds of hours and well over a thousand km run have led me to feeling wildly unprepared. Not quite where I thought I would be in early November. A few big life changes and some poor time management have left me many kilometres and many hours behind in my training plan.
Niggly little injuries have started to creep in with all the time I have spent sitting. I currently have a weird foot injury that is flaring up when I run, this is likely to result in the first week in over 6 months where I haven’t laced up. But on the brightside, at least I am listening to my body.
How Not To Run An 80k
October was meant to be filled with many back to back long runs and some grand adventures, but in reality it was filled with much time spent in the office and even more time convincing myself that I didn’t need to wake up early for yet another boring road run. October was also set to hold the longest run of my training block, a fat 80km boi.
In the last article I was trying to work out where I would do this. I was shown Klipriviersberg by a couple friends, it is not quite Table Mountain National Park but it was a welcome respite from the tar roads of Sandton. During a recce run I was planning to clock about 45km when at 21km in my 1600km old broken shoes, void of tread, failed me. This resulted in an awkward landing and some pretty intense foot pain that cut my run short at 25km.
All hope was not lost. A few days off and a new pair of shoes later I felt ready to demol myself with 80k of running laps at Klipriviersberg. It started out well, ticking off 30km (with 1000m ele gain) in about 3h45. I came in for a pit stop, replenished supplies and set off again, feeling good. I was conscious about my foot injury coming back but hoped my new rubber would save me (fuck knows how that would work, and shockingly enough it did not). The pain came back around 35km in, and feeling like a whale that just been harpooned I was fucking sut. I rapidly threw in the towel, thinking that today just wasn’t the day.
I began the long lonely walk home. I tried running again every now and then and found varying levels of pain. This quickly became manageable, and also detracted from the pain I felt in my legs. I was back, baby! Powering through 45k (end of lap 3) I was feeling alright, but the lack of time on my feet was becoming apparent. However, this was being held together somewhat by my nutrition (shocking!). Km 45 – 55 was somewhat uneventful, all about keeping the legs moving.
At 55 I was feeling rather dinged up, I had been running through my foot pain for a couple hours at this point, and I was kinda worried that I was going to start to do some real damage. It was around this point where I had the realisation that I planned to run another 110 km from this point in a couple weeks. For the first time I knew that I just wasn’t ready.
Confronting Your Reality
I haven’t been running enough, nor have I fleshed out my race plan enough for a 30 hour run and I was in a flat spin. And more than anything I began to fear the long term implications that this would have for my underprepared body.
It was all good and well to think I could do it, and I feel capable of it. But I don’t think I am willing to permanently fuck my body up at age 24. I was making good progress to avoid this possible eventuality but I am just not there.
So I swallowed my pride, and accepted the emotional defeat to save my knees and ankles and I have downgraded to the 100k.
Making Peace With Your Reality
This is a massive disappointment. I feel that I let down the friends that have been investing in me, let down everyone reading along and also, let myself down. I have been working towards this all year. All the time, all the kilometres and all my talk about this.
But none of this matters. It is all a sunk cost, and it won’t help me out there.
Making peace with my reality has been tough but I know that 100k is still a long ass way to run. It is still the challenge I was in search of. And more importantly than anything else I know that I am going to have an amazing time out on the mountain in just under 3 weeks.
Going forward my focus is on recovery, I need my foot to heal so that I can run any amount of kilometres. And then I need to finalise a race plan and find a support crew.
Live Fast, Die Last
And yours in suffering