Ultras are hard.
So, therefore, multiple day ultras are really hard. You have to dig VERY deep. I’ve often wondered how runners do these events. The answer? After listening and speaking to Stuart Amory and James Williams I can enlighten you. You have to pick a challenge that’s unique to you. You can only finish if you have the purest of reasons for wanting to reach the finish line.
Stuart’s story of running 585 miles in 17 days in 2018 (The Run of Gratitude) is interesting because of what he did and why he did it. Stuart used Up & Running stores as a meeting place and focus point. There are pictures of Stuart lying down on the floor of those stores – this run took him close to his physical limit but in Stuart’s words, because he completed the challenge, it wasn’t tough enough! We will have to wait and see what Stuart chooses to do next. Read more about why Stuart did this challenge on our blog post from 21st August 2018.
Even with all this, your reaction to Stuart’s story is to think, ‘I’m not interested in learning about this as I’m not sure what that’s got to do with me and my running?’
Similarly, James Williams is hoping to break the record for LEJOG (Lands End to John O’Groats). This involves 9 days of running for 18 hours a day and sleeping for 4 hours. No doubt, the rest of the day is his own! We support James for a number of reasons (it helps that he loves the Saucony Kinvara) but because James’ story also resonates with many runners.
On Sunday, 20th January, James was interviewed, with his coach Mimi Anderson and his sports psychologist Evie Serventi on our stand at The National Running Show at the NEC Birmingham. We were rewarded with a fascinating insight into how this team will maximise the chances of making this challenge successful.
James will face many challenges in May but also before then. His huge training mileage means that he needs quite a lot of pairs of running shoes, double layer socks, kit and food (I had lunch with James and he had 2 lunches)
James will also inevitably deal with the challenge of keeping going whilst very fatigued. He will deal with monotony and boredom. Which made me think, some of us, for example, do a parkrun because we want a bit of company and the social element is important. We would prefer not to run 30 minutes on our own. Other people will run because 30 minutes on their own is all they want!
James Williams has a very calm nature. You can tell that he’s ok with his own company. However, at some point, without a bit of ‘thinking about this in advance’ he is going to be pushing through extreme fatigue during his challenge. For that, James will have to dig deep and think about crossing that finish line no doubt with his arms up high celebrating.
What is the key to running multiple day ultras?
“Pick a challenge that’s unique to you.”