Never do a 6-day race if you…

1 Don’t want to. Your mind is your most powerful tool, it will spur you on through blisters, aching muscles, full-body pain, tiredness and boredom. Your mind as well as your body must be totally committed to do everything it takes to complete a 6-day ultra race.

Swap 'school' to 'run another step' and you're there!
Swap ‘school’ to ‘run another step’ and you’re there!

2 Can’t run slowly. Six days is a long time. Go 50% slower than you think you should on Day’s 1 & 2 even if you think everyone is ahead of you.

3 Can’t get your footwear quite right. Nothing is more draining than pain in every step. Try out shoe after shoe until you get a pair as comfy as slippers for days on end. Comfort wins over all other aspects of the shoe (even weight and grip) on a multi-day race.

These are the top 3 lessons I learned from the 6-marathon(ish) 6-day Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica earlier this month.

Back to the cold of the UK, I’ve just been on a brilliantly shivery 3 mile lunchtime run with my Trail Running mag colleagues Sarah and Hannah and the above top 3 came to mind while I was telling them about the race. It was so nice to run in the cold again, even though I was getting fed up of freezing just before I went! I knew this would happen. Mainly it was because I got down to 57.4kg for the race, now I have another 2kg on that (jeez, I’m the only person I know who can do 5 almost marathons in 6 days and put on 2kg, I am THAT good at eating and drinking cocktails, go me!) so now I should have the insulation I need for the British winter.

The main, very interesting thing I learnt from this race was that if you want to keep going, no matter how bashed up your poor old body is, your mind will force you onwards. I’ve had much more painful blisters (XNRG Druid Challenge 2014) and been in much more agony for longer (Bob Graham Round 2013) so my stomach cramps, diarrhea, painful 3-day blisters and the humidity wouldn’t have stopped me if my mind hadn’t decided “I have been through this before and I am fed up with not having fun in such a beautiful place as Costa Rica”.

Beautiful Drake Bay, Costa Rica, care of the amazing Ian Corless
Beautiful Drake Bay, Costa Rica, care of the amazing photographer & reporter Ian Corless

It was frightening and at the same time amusing to admit this to myself as usually I’m such a non-quitter. I’m the girl who ‘does stuff’, ‘completes things’, ‘carries on going’. That was my vision of myself anyway! It’s a little scary, but maybe then again a little more human, to find out that I have a quitting side. Either way, that’s the honest truth about why I DNF-ed Day 3 and DNS-ed Day 4. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastically organised, brilliant race and a true challenge (that I did not complete and many other amazing runners did). If you like the heat it’s definitely one for your bucket list, but I’ll stick to scuba diving in hot places!

So I’m now looking for another UK 3-dayer as I enjoyed the XNRG Druid Challenge so much last Nov. I’ve spotted the Votwo Jurassic Coast Challenge 20 March which looks right up my street, nice and chilly! It’d be a shame not to put all this amazing new fitness from my Rory Coleman training plan to good use. His wife Jen has just had a baby btw, congrats both for little Jack!

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