Is it possible to achieve a goal with very limited time and is it beneficial to set overly ambitious goals? I have always loved the quote by Les Brown who said ‘shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars’. This quote was a big driving force for me during the summer of 2020 hence the reasoning behind the decision to run thirty miles around the coast of Fife having never run further than three to four miles before. So, how did I run an ultra-marathon with no prior running experience with three weeks of training?
Well, I set out a couple of steps to achieve the goal. Before the run, I wanted to complete a half marathon distance, then run fifteen miles after that. I set these ‘sub-goals’ as I call them to make the big goal more achievable. My first half marathon went well completing it in a time of around 2 hours, however, filled me with a sense of dread as I knew I had a big task ahead. It hit me hard that in less than three weeks I was going to have to run another 16.9 miles on top of that distance.
I then worked up to running fifteen miles – this was definitely a turning point in my training. I must say, not a good turning point, reaching fifteen miles felt good but I was exhausted. So, I knew I needed a way to keep myself accountable and motivated. So, I decided to do it for charity. This was a fantastic way for me to push myself as there was an external force driving me, allowing me to run further.
At this point I am five days away from the run and I was still struggling. I was sore but still had an abundance of energy and motivation to achieve this goal. As I was venturing into the unknown, due to never having run for more than couple of hours before, I needed a new tactic. So, I started to meditate every day. This allowed me to calm my mind and begin to work on my breathing.
I knew to run an ultra-marathon I needed to be able to relax while running, so meditation allowed me to do this. Running really is a mental battle. It is of course hard and draining on your body so being able to relax during a run allows you to push further and up your mileage.
After completing the fifteen miles, it was time to run the thirty. I could not believe that three weeks ago I had only started running properly and I was about to run my first ultra-marathon. Setting yourself ambitious goals and giving yourself a short time frame is definitely not a sustainable way to progress but for some circumstances, it really does work.
Set yourself the goal, make a plan how you will achieve it and execute the plan the best you can. You will change and adapt the plan of course, but you will surprise yourself what you can accomplish with a small amount of time and a big task and if you don’t complete it – you’ll have still done some outstanding work.
I finished the ultra in just over five hours.
Thank you for reading!