Can I finish the South Downs Way 50?

Running ultra marathons is as much about your preparation as it is about the race itself, if you fail to turn up for the training then there is little chance of there being glory on race day. I’ve been in a bit of a constant lull over the last six months because of the increasing pain I have been suffering in my hips. At 2014s other completed ultras (Country to Capital and St. Peter’s Way) I’ve had other issues which have thankfully been more serious than the pain coming from around my middle, namely a split open leg at C2C and a chest infection at SPW. However, with increasing regularity the pain has become unbearable – especially when I look to push myself to beyond the 20 mile mark. This has meant that overall my training hasn’t been as thorough as it should have been and no amount of resting has offered any respite. Ultimately I’m now worried about running and thinking about my hips, and the more I think about them the more I’m likely to make an injury happen.

However, now with the SDW50 just a few days away I’ve finally booked in with a physio to see if they can grind my bones and muscles into enough shape to allow me to get through the race – I don’t need fixing at the moment I just need to remain strong enough to be on the trail. Funnily I’ve also finally started stretching and foam rollering on a consistent basis and while this is making a bit of a difference it’s probably not enough.

I’m fully aware that my entire body is a bit of a mess and I am falling apart but I’m committed to the challenges I’ve set myself, therefore April and May looks like a make or break time with three ultra distances in a month (albeit one of them a hiking challenge 96 in 36).

I’ve promised myself that if I get through the SDW50 (and WNWA96 and National100) I’ll get properly looked at and stop procrastinating, I might even accept whatever medicine that is thrown at me but for now, for this next race, I’m in a race against myself.

So can I finish the SDW50? The answer is ‘probably’ as I managed to finish the other two when I didn’t think it was possible. But do I want to make a fool of myself at this race? No of course I don’t – I want to finish well, probably in around 9hrs something would be nice but there’s the niggling feeling inside that says I should be grateful to come in under at just under 13 and a half hours.

If you’re running the SDW50 this weekend then best of luck and if you see me scrabbling in the dirt then please think kindly of me, perhaps even pat me on the back and tell me it’ll be over soon. Happy running.

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