Don’t Be Scared Of Failure And Criticism
I shouldn’t have tried to run my first 100k. My preparation was disastrous. I didn’t even think about the possibility of being trapped in rural Sussex without a headlamp.
I used to spam my articles on Reddit quite a lot back in the day and when I put my 100k race report up on the site, there was an understandable backlash about my preparation. I got some funny private messages too from the spandex brigade.
Someone actually messaged me to say that I’d “brought myself into disrepute” by failing to plan for the event. I don’t even know what that’s meant to mean. I have a reputation for preparing badly for these races, so it’s hardly as if it’s anything new. My preparation for the Paris Marathon was arguably even more ridiculous. I was drinking isotonic sports drink mixed with vodka on a Saturday night as a way of preparing me for my long run.
I was convinced I was taking it seriously.
There’s a lot to be said for that naive spirit of adventure.
Maybe I did bring myself into disrepute. But fuck it. What’s wrong with that? I broke some cunt’s running code and they are upset with me. I don’t like this person and I don’t want to be friends with them, so why should I be worried that I’ve somehow offended them?
Good. I hope they enjoy being offended. It kept them entertained for 20 minutes. It doesn’t change anything.
I’m not suggesting that you turn up to your first ultramarathon without a headlamp. Do ANY preparation at all and you’ll be doing better than me in 2014.
But don’t let your doubts discourage you from even trying. Don’t let the reactions of other people worry you too much either. You’ll face criticism wherever you go in life and some of it is useful if you listen to it. For example some old chief once said to me “Matt you bollocks, you’re a fucking pisshead” and whilst I reacted angrily at the time, I knew they had a point.
Most people don’t run ultras because they worry about failing and being consumed by the challenge. That might be true. But when you’re consumed by failure, it spits you back out and you learn more about yourself. You survive.
From that 100k I learnt that there was something amazing about running for that long through the countryside and that I wanted to do it again.
I tried to do another 100k in 2015 but my training was ruined by alcohol as usual.
In 2016 I completed 2 ultras and came within 8 miles of a 3rd.
I’m slowly learning as I go along.
Without throwing myself arse first at that first ultra, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Living in a fucking rented kitchen in Tottenham…
Living the dream.