Training Log—25th March 2018: Barkley Suffering


My life/business/mental toughness coach asked a simple question this week that really shook me up. "When do you have to be ready to start your ultra training cycle?" he asked.

I reckoned in about 8 weeks or so.

That made me sit bolt upright.

8 weeks?! That's all? While the ultra itself is still ages away, the point at which I have to be fit enough to start training for it properly isn't. And I'm a long way from being "base fit".

Yet here I am still struggling to get out the door. In fact, last week was a shocker of a training week. Long hours at work and foul weather made it very easy to skip my runs. Mostly because the lethargy hasn't left me. I'm not hungry for running. I thought signing up for the ultra would get me going. It hasn't. My coach suggests it's because my body is still "full" from last year's long-distance running feast. I'm fat dad on the sofa with his belt undone after Christmas dinner. (It's not a pretty sight.)

So we talked about what might motivate me. I said I was looking forward to the Barkley Marathons, which I guessed would be held next (Easter) weekend. My guess was wrong.

Barkley isn't the kind of event that publicises itself ahead of time. Entering is its own feat of endurance and sleuthing. Outsiders are kept at bay. It's part of the attraction. So if you want to follow along at a distance, you need to know the one Twitter account to monitor and also work out when the event is likely to be held. The actual start time is a mystery—even to the 40 participants.

Yesterday morning, the first thing I saw on Instagram was a post by Ethan Newberry (The Ginger Runner). It was a rallying cry in support of Gary Robbins. That woke me up quicker than a coffee bullet delivered directly to my brain. Barkley isn't next weekend! It is now. Right now. (As I'm typing these words, we're waiting for the remaining runners to complete their second loop. It's not looking good for a five-loop finisher this year.)

I would have felt dreadfully disappointed if I had missed it. Instead, I'm swept along by the Barkley hashtag, eagerly awaiting updates. They are sparse and meagre. Thousands of people around the world are following along. We interact a little. Speculate about things we cannot know. We're addicted to the feed, incessantly refreshing to see whether there is any fresh morsel of information, hour after hour, later into the night and into the early morning. For 60-plus hours, we all have a single focus: Barkley. It's a feat of endurance.

Sadly, it hasn't lifted my lethargy any.

Days to Kerry Way Ultra Lite: 167
Training kilometres last week: 16.0 (Strava), 17.5 (me)
Number of runs last week: 3 (Strava and I agree on this)

Roger Overall