Back to Basics

It’s been 3 weeks since my epic 100-mile adventure at the inaugural Run24 event in Reading, and I have to admit – it has changed me.

3 years ago I read a book called “Ultramarathon Man” by Dean Karnazes, I remember it back-to-basicsvividly – at the time I could barely run 5k, let alone imagine running 100 miles. Tales of the highs and lows, trail pizza-eating technique, hallucinations and the fear and loathing that accompanies these events somehow got under my skin and I knew that one day – I too would be able to run 100 miles in under 24 hours, attaining the coveted “100 miles, one day” title.

At Run24 I smashed the barrier, coming in at 21hrs 41min – and, with hindsight – it felt easy, (compared to Fellsman anyway). I’m still a little annoyed with myself that I didn’t win the event as all it would have taken is a couple of hours of easy walking – but I’m getting over that. I doubt the opportunity will happen again. Afterwards, it took a little while to sink in – I had actually realised my dream and done what I’d read about 3 years previously.

But something was bugging me still… At Run24 I’d worn my Garmin and kept it alive with a portable USB charger, recharging it by running for 90 minutes with a little portable battery pack strapped to my wrist during the middle of the night. I started thinking about this, and my reliance on the little computer on my wrist, it was all I had known for 3 years – increasingly it seemed ridiculous – I’d started running to lose weight and had somehow, along the way become enslaved to mile splits, heart rate and GPS routes.

So, with some trepidation I packed the Garmin away and headed out of the door with my left wrist a few grams lighter and my chest a bit more unrestricted. It was a revelation…

Recovering from a 100-mile race takes time, I didn’t run at all for 10 days after – my longest break since starting running 3 years ago. The first couple of runs were painfully slow but I’m back now, stronger and fitter than before. Today I ran from Merthyr to Cardiff on the Taff Trail, I don’t know how far it was, what my mile splits were or how long it took me, what I do know is that I loved every second of the run. Without that little nagging computer on my wrist I could focus completely on running by feel and living in the moment.

Modern technology has it’s place – it’s a tool and a great one to help you hit your goal, whatever that may be. I’d forgotten about the beauty and simplicity of running and become a slave to chasing statistics, it took running 100 miles to bring me back to where I started. Maybe I’ll dust it off if I decide to try for a fast marathon, maybe it’ll go on eBay to go towards paying for Western States / Leadville / UTMB – who knows?

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