5 March 2017

Thriving V Surviving - 6 Foot Track Marathon

This has been my 3rd run at 6 Foot and originally when I planned my 2017 racing it was to be a big one. This is a sentimental race for most and for me it offers many positives that help in motivating me as an athlete. 

On my way to a 1st place finish on what is becoming my favourite trail race
at Wentworth Falls. Photo - XThomas Photography
My build over summer was good and unfortunately right when I pushed go I was diagnosed with pneumonia resulting in a spell in bed, away from work and training. This meant my goals needed to be re visited and the plan adjusted. With upcoming races in February at Wentworth Falls and Orange I knew I would potentially be short of the chance to get a good long run in prior to the race. 

I managed a good 30km long run, jagged an unexpected quality performance at Wenty Falls where I felt good and recovered well afterwards. I then spluttered my way to the finish in Orange a week later taxing myself more than expected with recovery being far more difficult than my normal half marathon effort. After a small block of racing, my training needed to be altered and I was focusing on quality rather than quantity, with 6 Foot fast approaching I was fast running out of time. This approach has me in good shape and I do feel I'm making real progress, but I know I am missing suitable long runs and hill sessions in my legs. Going into a race like 6 Foot where the variety of terrain, level of competition and distance of the race mean runners are truly tested from start to finish, right now to me seems like complete madness. 
Below Pinnacle Hill - I knew here I did not have the required
additional 35km in my to get to the Caves. 

6 Foot is a race that I want to thrive at and not merely survive. As a coach I would advise my athletes to always only race if they were fit and ready, so as a runner should I heed this advice? I want to be able to run 6 Foot on my terms not just holding on hoping I finish off ok, running isn't like a team sport where when you start getting flogged the opponent can back off. It's you against the course and this course throws challenges from start to finish and I'm well aware of just how taxing it can be on a prepared body let alone one underdone! 

I often get asked "are you crazy running that distance?" To which I answer… I would only be crazy if I wasn't prepared properly for that event. This time around I am not, I know this deep down and while it's hard to withdraw I need to for my health and peace of mind.

At Pinnacle where a moment clarity came across my mind.
I am now truly focused on UTA50. Since I finished last year I have wanted to arrive at that start line fit, prepared, focused and ready to run to my potential. Running 6 Foot in my current state would throw far too many variables into my training leading into UTA, similar to what I have experienced with Buffalo in previous years. Too much compromise has led to my training not being consistent and specific enough in the past. For what I want to achieve in May I need to make sure I am not forgoing specific training for unnecessary racing. 

I'm not going to make this mistake again and not racing 6 Foot in 2017 is a tough but important decision I have to make. It's not made lightly and I'm sure I'll have mixed feelings next Saturday but it means I can keep building towards UTA on my terms. No compromise, no excuses but a chance to run in manner that I feel I'm capable of. 

Hurting all the way to the finish chute not willing to give up
one place. Photo - Orange Running Festival
So I choose to thrive not just survive in my races and this year 6 Foot is one that I just can't do. It will be there next year and if I focus on it and things go to plan I will arrive at the start ready to thrive there once again.

Running is part of my lifestyle and it's something I want to do for as long as possible and being able to make the right choices when it comes to my health and racing will only increase my longevity in the sport.

Photo Credit

XThomas Photography

Orange Running Festival Shutterfly