Ultra Marathon Madness

By Ian Lay

My Activity Tracking


I'm fundraising for the future of hospitality.

After accomplishing the Brighton Marathon, where I managed to get the worst sunburn of all time, I realised my mental health completely suffered.  I had nothing to work towards.  I had no focus.  My routine was broken.

So ... I've decided to challenge myself again and this time I'm pushing myself even further with an Ultra Marathon.

A normal marathon is 42.2km.  This will be 50km.  I know its only another 8kms, but the physical and mental strain my body will go through will be unbelievable.  Some people struggle to complete a marathon.  So let's do this.

Let's have me pushing myself to raise money for an awesome cause.  Running to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues.  Running to raise awareness.

Any support you can give would be incredible.

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My Updates

18th July - A podcast

Thursday 18th Jul
Normally I listen to music, but I have recently joined the gym and when I'm there I am only doing low impact workouts, like exercise bike and today was the cross trainer, so I just throw on a podcast.  My gym workouts are vital as my knees keep aging and they will ultimately be my downfall.  But it turns out I am putting in about as much effort with these workouts as I am with this blog.  Though I do end up a lot sweatier at the gym.

My blogging is almost as successful as the whole training that I am doing at the moment, with the worrying fact that I now have less than two months until I could actually die whilst running.  Not by being hit by a bus (which is an actual possibility) but by just not being ready.  I am exercising though, which is the frustrating part of this.

When I did the Brighton and even the London, I knew other people that were also  taking part (albeit a lot quicker than me) and I had that online companionship which spurred me on.  I had a realistic fundraising goal but meant I could feasibly aim towards something.  Now though, I am almost going solo.  The only time I am not alone is on a 5k (which luckily is still under 30 minutes - just).

So what the fuck has been happening?  Well, I've been doing running shit interspersed with the whole working shit, mingled with creating a running club.  Not much then.

To be fair the running club started with just me in week one and then three other runners in week 2.  I have no idea how many will turn up to week 3, but I know I will be there and the chances are I will be hungover to hell.  Work has been tiring and stressful, but when isn't it?

Running ... well that's a whole different story.  Knowing I have to up my mileage or else I am completely screwed, I decided that the majority of my runs would be between 5 and 10km, because I genuinely did not have the motivation to get out and do anything.  Until the 14th.  That's when I thought it would be a great idea to go out in the morning sun (yes I started at just after 7am - a fucking ridiculous time at a weekend) and then plod my ass through a half marathon.  Yep, that's right, somehow I did a half marathon.  What was more impressive was the then almost eight hour shift I did followed by the absolutely unexciting Euro final.  I was pooped.  Absolutely, totally, fucking pooped.  How the hell am I going to do twice that amount???

Seriously, how the fuck is that going to even happen?

It was also possibly the slowest and most painful half marathon I have ever done.  I went out without a running vest and just my tee shirt and ended up not just sweating my tits off, but literally rubbing my tits off.  It was lovely afterwards walking around work telling everyone how much my boobs hurt!

I did legitimately tell them that.

What then didn't help was doing running club the following day in the pouring rain (it was so heavy the Thames was actually on the bridges) which really didn't help with the boob situation.  

I think its time to buy a new vest.

Anyway, its almost the weekend, which will be filled with far too much drinking (birthday celebration) and probably not enough running.  But I am sure I will do some.

Wish me luck (and donate) as I'm pretty bloody sure I will need it.

28th June - Glad you came

Friday 28th Jun
OK, so I've been a bit shit with the whole blogging thing recently, seeing as I haven't written anything for almost tow weeks.  But I assure you I have been running - check out my strava if you don't believe me.  To be fair, if you do check it out, you'll see that I've mostly done 5kms plods, including one around Central London in Saharan temperatures, which saw me drinking more water than I have ever drunk before - ever!  

I just haven't had the time, the motivation or the energy to get out there, but then I had the daunting realisation that in less than three months I'm doing an Ultra Marathon, and all I've been doing is gentle 5km runs.  Fuck!!!!  The stress of working full time, commuting, running and moving house has all got on top of me recently.  From the last couple of weeks, I can completely sympathise with Rishi Sunak.  To be fair his running is a campaign where as mine is trails, and we are both moving house with a few weeks of each other.

Today was different though.  The weather has chilled slightly and there is finally a breeze meaning I can actually run and not drown in sweat.  I can actually breathe when I am out and not burn my lungs with the excessive heat and I can just keep going.

It was an amazing 10km run today (apart from the whole getting lost / not knowing where the Hell I was going) and it was a new route.  Well part of it was.  I didn't think with one turning that I would end up on one of my old running routes.  I know I could've gone further, but with only one day off before a crazily long shift over the weekend (probably 55 hours) I still had shit to do at home.  Damn life admin.  But I felt it again today.

What's it?  It is that feeling that you can achieve.  It is that feeling where you have no worries in the world.  It is the knowing that you belong and you are doing something not just for yourself, but trying to do it for others.  It is the sense of oneself, that I just haven't had in so long.  Today's run made me feel that way and I fucking loved it.

I also got to see where they filmed the Dowager Countess' house from Downton Abbey.  In all honesty, its a lovely building surrounded by fields, a river and loads of wildflowers.  Slightly ruined by the metal fencing and work that is being done to it, but I did feel tranquil.  If ever you are in the area, you must go.  Running some of footpaths were brilliant.  I felt with one with nature and one with myself and there was a genuine runner's spring in my step.

My next run is going to be Monday after the mammoth shift - if I actually have any energy left!  I think I might do this plod again, though I have worked out how to add to my distance, and I am rather excited about it.

Finally my head is getting in the game and I can start working towards this Marathon Madness.  I might even join the local gym for some pilates classes and low impact exercise (my knees are currently celebrating their 107th birthday - or at least it feels that way).

15th June - Can't remember

Saturday 15th Jun
Today was glorious, yes it was only a quick 5k ParkRun, but it was still glorious.  I actually enjoyed running and I could move afterwards, in actual fact I could run afterwards, well I could plod a bit more.

Running has been a complete pain in the arse recently and I have actively avoided doing any form of exercise, even walking, which I generally don't mind doing, but not recently, but I'll explain more about that in a bit, so hold on in there.

I wasn't alone today, which was fun.  I managed to persuade a friend who has recently started running to come and join me.  Well to be honest, I bribed her with a bacon sandwich if she completed it.  Man I love bribery and I might have to start bribing myself, because who doesn't love a good bacon sarnie.  Especially on a Saturday morning, when you have dragged your ass out of bed at an ungodly hour (its not that ungodly on a weekday, but on a Saturday ... really???).  I introduced her to the official plodders breakfast to prepare her for the 5k - a wispa bar and some diet coke, and she did it.  She smashed her first ParkRun and what's more she fucking annihilated her first ever 5k.  Phenomenal.

Obviously chocolate and diet coke are the key elements in running.

Apparently I was there to support her and encourage her, but what she doesn't realise was she was my encouragement.  We had agreed that we would start together (to be fair everyone starts together on ParkRun) and then I would dash off - because I am renowned for my dashing skills?? - and then when I had finished I would join her.  What she doesn't realise was that I was determine to finish with her and support her as much as possible.  Which meant I pushed myself and got another PB.

The awesome part abouut the PB is that it was 11 minutes faster than my first ParkRun (to be fair I was still utterly buggered from the marathon but we can overlook that) and I still had something in me.  I finished, and then joined her and was allowed to be a twat whilst encouraging her.  Bloody glorious.  And I stay in the under-30 minute club (that totally is not going to stay that way.

Today has given me an absolute buzz.  I don't know what it was.  It could have been the PB.  It could've been the friendship.  It could have been the perfect running weather (though it has caused slight chafing on my inner moob, which seeing as I don't have a decent running vest at the moment, will be getting worse).  It could've been the fact that one of the organisers recognised the Burnt Chef logo I was wearing or it could have been that I was running with a friend.

However, it maybe, just maybe, to do with the fact that I have less than three months to run a stupid fucking Ultra Marathon.  Because I got wine drunk and signed up for the God Damned Ultra Marathon.  Somehow, I have to take what I did today and multiply the distance by ten and run it.  

Ask someone what their marathon time is and they might be able to tell you.  Ask someone what their ultra time is and they won't be able to tell you, because not that many people are crazy enough to push their body through the crap I have signed up for.

I genuinely have no idea how I am going to train for this ridiculousness, but I am going to have to try and find a way of doing it.

I have been absolutely shit at running recently.  I've actively avoided any form of exercise recently.  I've been extremely stressed and generally lazy and wanting to just sit (a skill I have well and truly mastered).  But today has changed that.  I'm even tempted to go for a run tomorrow at stupid o'clock in the morning (ok, it may not be stupid o'clock and it may be a reasonable time, but again its the weekend and I should be up before midday).  I'm not going to guarantee that I will run, but I am feeling inspired - and slightly freaked out at the massive challenge ahead of me.

Why do I do this crap?  Genuinely, why am I doing this?  But I have said I will, so I will no matter what.

This buzz could literally all end in tears.

8th June - Call Me Maybe

Saturday 8th Jun
I really need to change my mentality if I'm even going to get through part of this Ultra.  I go for a 5k and when I start I'm questioning whether I am going to get a PB.  I get half way around and I get demotivated because I know I'm not hitting my PB.  But who actually gives a fuck about PBs?  I know deep down that this is not a sprint, its an Ultra Marathon.

I most definitely is not a sprint, though at this point - one week into training - I wish it was a sprint.  I wish it was 50m not 50km.  When I started the Brighton Marathon training everything was great.  Struggle with a 5km?  Not a problem, you'll smash it next time.  Problem with a 10km?  No worries, you've got ages, but I'm a runner now and I need to be able to get my distances in.

I need to stop the procrastination.  Though to be honest, I doubt that will ever happen.  I'm good at procrastinating, and even the buzz that I get after a run (or usually get after a run) doesn't overpower the overwhelming urge to sleep and eat.  I also need to realise that I do still have three months to grow my distance.  I know in myself I can do a marathon - everyone I meet ends up knowing I can do a marathon - so I need to stop beating myself and just focus on me.

This mornings run was a solo run, but as part of a community.  A community of people that for some reason think it is a good idea to drag their asses out of bed on a Saturday morning to go and do exercise.  (I still believe that exercise is the worse swear word that I use.)  Almost 500 of us, some slower than me, some faster.  Well actually their were 325 people faster than me.  And frustratingly I wasn't able to push myself more this morning.

I will admit that a small part of me enjoyed it.  A very very very small part of me.  It did give me time to just lose myself and listen to cheesy music, and it was an hour away from the stresses of everyday life.  I should explain that it did not take me an hour to run 5km.  I am just factoring in the standing around before and after.  Some people call this warming up and down.  I call it mental preparation, even though I'm not preparing myself, but I feel that sounds better than just standing around.

There was one absolute bonus to this morning's run though ... I got to wear my new Burnt Chef Running Tee.  Slightly tight, but that's fine.  I am sure that if I sort my shit out with this whole running crap, then it will either become looser or I might actually get rid of the belly and moobs and it'll look better on me.

Yes, my vanity is coming out.  But do you know what?  I don't overly give a shit.

Now to prepare myself for a much longer run tomorrow.  Bring on the boiled eggs and chocolate!!

2nd June - Don't Stop Believin'

Sunday 2nd Jun
And so the torture and torment starts all over again.  This time I'm aiming for an ultra marathon and thought let's start the training with a half a marathon.

For anyone that read my blog during my training for the Brighton Marathon, you will know that I burn very easily.  I get very sweaty and today was no exception.  I think I have drunk more water today than I have ever drunk.  I truly needed to replace the fluids that were pouring out of me.  I'm pretty sure I could have filled an Olympic sized swimming pool with today's profuse sweating!

However, it was quite nice to see some of the old running routes, which I haven't run on for almost two months.  There weren't puddles which was great, however, there were nettles.  There were lots of nettles.  In actual fact if you put the amount of sweat and the amount of nettles together, you could probably create enough nettle soup for the entire UK for the next six years!  Yes there were nettles.

There were also people.  More people than I remember, and two smiled and one said hi.  Wow, you don't talk to strangers in Surrey (when you're sober) so it was lovely to again come back to this beautiful running community.

I think today was my slowest half marathon to date.  But I think that during my training this time, I have to stop focusing on my times and look at endurance and stamina.  Yes it would be great to get a few PBs along the way, but ultimately I have to know in my head that I can run 50km - without physically dying.

This run has shot my knees to shit and my feet are already feeling it.  Its going to be a long three months of training.  But the training has now officially started.  

This is going to be fucking interesting ride.

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