This is a post about the benefits of self-delusion. You see, way back in October last year I was pressured into entering my first ultramarathon, the Ultra-trail Australia 50km in the Blue Mountains.
Okay, there wasn’t much pressure, I was on holiday in Thailand but I saw on Facebook that most of my running friends had just signed up when the online entries opened and I thought I’d better get in before it filled up. It wasn’t on until May this year, but places are limited and it is an iconic run that closes quickly.
I have never been nearly fit enough to run a marathon, let alone an ultra. I’m quick enough over a half-marathon, but I’ve always been too hampered by injuries to build up to a big race. I’ve planned to do marathons before, but never entered because my training was always held up by some kind of niggle or complaint.
So that finally brings me to my point. When I signed up seven months early for the ultra I did it without any fear. I mean, I was actually unable to run at the time because of a calf tear I got climbing, but so what? I had seven months to prepare, I didn’t have to worry.
I actually spent four months getting over the calf injury, leaving me only four months to prepare for the 50km from a state of poor fitness. So yeah, now I’m worrying about the run plenty. But it’s too late!! The $250 has been paid, accommodation is booked, and I’ve bought new shoes. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m way too cheap to back out on that investment. Plus, most of my friends are going, so at least we’ll suffer together.
Brendan Leonard at semi-rad.com has addressed this very point in his article about the power of a fear-based fitness plan, and how you can get motivation from taking on challenges that scare the pants off you.
My fear-based training focus isn’t focused on fitness and performance so much as injury management. My training priorities are things that I am normally very bad at:
- Stretching and foam rolling
- Strength sessions at the gym to prevent running injuries
- Running carefully, slowly growing my mileage, getting enough sleep, and listening to my body
So make good use of self-delusion, but don’t forget to listen to your fear. It is probably smarter than you are.