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Daimon’s 2013 Challenge – Run the Grand Union Canal in 5 days or less.

The first questions that usually spring forth when ultra endurance events are mentioned are “why?” and “how?”

Why do I do the things I do? I can answer that by asking “Why do you do what you do?” I run because of a multitude of reasons, not least that it gets me into shape. I say “gets me into shape” because at the time of writing this I am in no shape at all! In October 2012 I ran the Royal Parks Ultra (50 km) with very poor training and ended up injuring myself to the extent I had to stop running altogether.

This should be a lesson for anyone reading this. I stopped training for the Royal Parks Ultra with 6 weeks to go having “fallen out of love” with running. Running just was not doing it for me, so I stopped. Stopping was not the mistake. Running 50 km’s was the mistake. Yes, it is obvious that running 50 km’s with poor training was a bad idea but I had promised myself at the start of 2012 that I would finish the year as an ultra-marathon runner. My stupidity goes hand in hand with my stubbornness. Ergo, I ran the Royal Parks Ultra in a few seconds over 6 hours with very poor training backing me up.

I learnt that although I had the medal that stated “ultra-marathon” I did not deserve it. In my eyes I had cheated the system. I hadn’t trained. I was a fraud. It sounds a bit harsh and some would say but you still ran it! However, the fact I ran it is not the point. You’ll often hear runners talk about their journey, and how “getting to the starting line is the hardest bit”. Well I felt like I’d sauntered to the start of that 31.1 mile route, so if that was supposed to be the hardest part… I’d cheated.

In my opinion anyone with the slightest ability to run can run a marathon (NOTE: Do not take my word as gospel! If you are new to running or have any doubts about your physical ability, see a professional for guidance!). My point is “The difference is the training one puts in prior to the event.” If you run an ultra with no training then you expect to be in BIG trouble by the end of it. If you run an ultra with the correct training then you expect to enjoy the experience and probably finish exhausted, with maybe the odd bit of discomfort here and there, but ultimately you’ll be fine after a week or two of recovery.

I’d cheated and I’d paid the price. No running for 3 months. Ask any person that uses running as their sport/ritual/stress reliever what it is like to not be able to run and I feel sure you will get the same answer – IT IS A NIGHTMARE! All you want to do is get back out there but you know you need rest rest rest. You’re running shoes sit there looking at you, begging you to go out but you have to deny them. It’s gutting.

So this time I want to do things right! I’m healed but I am well overweight and completely out of shape. It is now time for me to turn this tub of lard I call my body into an endurance machine. This brings me neatly to the “How?” Well, this blog should shed some light on how I will get to the end of the 147 miles of the Grand Union Canal. Enjoy!

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