Lessons learnt from the SDW50

South Downs Way

South Downs Way (Photo credit: Peter J Dean)

I can do it – The first thing I learnt from the South Down Way 50 was that I can do more than I think I can. Just a few years ago I would have thought it impossible that someone like me could run 50 miles. Just a few days ago I thought it was unlikely that someone like me could so it. In fact at mile 17 I thought it was unlikely that I could do it. Turns out you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

This too shall pass – I tend to feel at the worse on a run somewhere between mile 17 and mile 22. I assume this is where I am running out of carbohydrates and am having to utilise my fat stores. I could quite happily have dropped out of the race at this point. I was starting to get cold, it was starting to rain and it felt like there was an impossible distance to still cover. In the future ‘This too shall pass’ will be my mantra. After a couple of miles I started to feel better and felt good for the rest of the run. (Good is a relative word…).

Take food – The aid stations were wonderful and the volunteers awesome but there is a limit to how many calories you are going to pick up from a handful of peanuts and a piece of fruit or two. I largely fuelled with cliff bloks and vegan flapjacks (only 59p for around 300 calories. A great find). It was hard to eat at times but I think it was important to force it down. If the weather was hotter I will need to find a way of easily replacing electrolytes.

Buddy up – Running with someone was invaluable for completing the course. 50 miles is a long lonely road with no company and running in the rain, wind and fog made things even more isolated. I think I might have dropped out without someone else to keep me going.

Kit lists are there for a reason – Carry hats, gloves, maps and a compass seems like a pain in the arse but boy was a I grateful for that base layer. Listen to the nice race organisers. They know what they are talking about.

Know when to take it easy – Early on it was tempting to run up the hills with legs nice and fresh but I glad I saved something for the end. Have a plan and stick to it.

Know when to pick up the pace – On the other hand sometimes it is just as easy to run as walk and it will get you somewhere warm and dry that bit sooner.

Running is fun, running longer is longer fun – Sometimes during the training I think I lost sight of why I run. I need to focus more on the beauty of the trails and the feeling of being out in the big wide world. I’m looking forward to training for the Adidas TR24 this July and then having a year off from events to concentrate on just enjoying running for its own sake.


One thought on “Lessons learnt from the SDW50

  1. You are not alone. I was ticking off many of your points with ‘Yep, that’s me’. The SW50 was not my first ultra but after a lacklustre winter running I have to say I was in the same place as you. “Why am I doing this?”. The SDW50 has happily returned the perspective. I have one more race planned for this year and I’m now looking forward not just to the event but the final preparation. Good luck on the TR24!

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