When you set yourself a big goal, its not often that you give serious thought to what happens immediately after it. You might continually remind yourself of how good it will feel once you’ve achieved your goal when you’re fighting though the tough times on the way, but for me, most post-goal plans tend to be filed under “Stuff for Future Rhona to Sort Out”.
My journey to the start, and ultimately the finish, of the West Highland Way Race was something which lasted the guts of 5 years, and in the latter stages, effectively took over my life. In the last weeks before the race, there was one statement which was constantly on my lips: “I can’t wait for this to be over so I can get my life back”. The West Highland Way Race for me was less of a race and more a lifestyle choice. For years, every mile I ran and every race I completed was fuel in the bank for the eventual 95 mile race, so starting out again with nothing in particular to focus my training on is a weird feeling. But do you know? I kind of like it…
I’ve been trying to encourage myself to think about what might be the next big thing on the horizon for me, especially as big races in 2016 are starting to open. I need to think about this now so I don’t miss out, but I also don’t want to push myself into making a rash decision. For now I know I definitely DON’T want to do the West Highland Way Race next year, so that’s a start, and I know I’d like to explore some ultras outside of Scotland.
The freedom that comes from not having your training tied to a specific event is liberating, but also dangerous. It’s a lot easier to kick yourself out of the door to do a run when you have a huge goal hanging over you, so I need to maintain some sense of discipline until I decide what the Next Big Thing will be. I’m enjoying not running when I don’t have to, but a side-effect of that is no longer eating anything I like without concern, and trousers which are a little tighter than they should be.
In terms of recovery from the West Highland Way Race, everything is going well. I took a full week of rest, before a week of yoga and one gentle run which felt good. I did a further week of yoga and one run, and by the end of it I was desperate to get back out and training properly, so I knew my resting was complete. I’m still segueing running carefully back into my life, but I also need to not over-do it as I have to keep myself in good shape for the Devil o’ the Highlands Footrace which is on the 1st of August. I have no injuries, but some things are still a bit tight when I run so I need to be sensible.
So What’s the Plan?
For a long time, especially in the last year, I have said no to non-essential races and then became green at the gills as photographs of my friends having fun popped up around the internet. I love to race; it’s my favourite thing about running and I’ve missed doing races just for the social outing, so for the rest of the year I’m going to have some fun and do races which I’ve missed out on before for various reasons. Hopefully somewhere along the way 2016’s plan will begin to take shape, but here’s what’s in the planner for the rest of 2015:
1st August – Devil of the Highlands Footrace – 42 miles
This years’ edition of the Devil is the first under the direction of the legendary Johnny Fling, better known for his fantastic April ultra, the Hoka Highland Fling. I am excited to do this race for the first time, but it does feel a little odd to think that I’ll be back racing on the WHW so soon after the West Highland Way Race. The race starts in Tyndrum and continues onwards to Fort William – will I finally get a decent crossing of the Lairig Mhor?! Kynon is also running and we have decided to run it together and just take things easy and enjoy a day out in the hills. Neither of us are in the best shape currently, but we know we can finish.
22nd August – Speyside Way Ultramarathon – 36.5 miles
I’ve wanted to do the Speyside Way Race for years, but it consistently clashes with my yearly attendance at Infest, an electronic music festival. This year the race is a little earlier which has given me the opportunity to try it out. It will be an extremely gentle run for me, as the next day I am signed up for…
23rd August – The Fare Challenge Half Marathon
Why on earth am I doing this back-to-back? Well, why the hell not. I wanted to do this new race last year, but it was also on the same weekend as Infest. Reports from last year indicate that the route is stunning but very tough and beautiful. My friend David challenged me to join him in a back-to-back effort, and I couldn’t say no. I’m looking forward to an endurance challenge that doesn’t involve running for 29 hours.
19th September – Crathes Half Marathon
A little pre-marathon joglet around the grounds of Crathes Castle in support of the National Trust for Scotland. I’m looking forward to getting one of the lovely event T-shirts to replace the one I got three years ago which was chewed up by a dodgy washing machine in my old flat.
27th September – Berlin Marathon
Oh I am SO looking forward to this race. It’s a shame that I haven’t given it much attention on the blog due to the West Highland Way Race overshadowing…well, everything. But, I’m running the Berlin Marathon! So is Kynon! We were both lucky enough to get places in the ballot, and we are both going to go for broke at this one – it’s the fastest course in the world and hopefully we’ll be bringing our fastest legs with us. I am entertaining the idea that I might be able to get a Good For Age time for the London Marathon here (sub 3:45), but there is a risk that the heat will clobber me. Either way, fast or slow, it’s going to be a super fun, long weekend in one of my favourite cities.
25th October – Monymusk Hilly Half Marathon
I did this race last year and it’s a bit of a killer. The first 7 miles are uphill which is a real strength sapper, but it was a great little race with a good feed after. It’s also part of our Club Championships, which I will still be trying to get points for.
7th November – Glen Ogle 33 Ultramarathon
I’ve been trying to do this race for years but it keeps clashing with things. Like many of the Scottish Ultras, the entry process has become somewhat of a frenetic bun-fight, so when it opened on the same night as the Brewdog AGM this year, I found myself drunkenly peering at my phone screen trying to enter over a sketchy wi-fi connection. I promptly continued on my bender and it wasn’t until I checked my emails on the Monday morning that I remember I had got myself an entry. Hurrah!
15th November – Fraserburgh Half Marathon
I think this will be my fourth visit to the Broch Half. It’s my PB course, so hopefully there will still be some life in my legs by the end of the year and I might be able to crack out a respectable time.
I can’t put off planning 2016 for much longer, but there is an element to this which is totally out of my control. I will submit my MSc thesis at the end of September, and after that I’m not really sure where I’m going to be living or working in the months beyond that. At the moment there are a lot of options to consider outside of where I’m going to be running, so that’s another reason why I’m not making any big plans and will just enjoy taking part in some races that I’ve previously missed out on.