I am suffering from a crisis of running identity.
I started as a school cross country runner, became a marathoner before I was a real road runner, swapped the road for the hills and mountains, and then fell into ultra-running. For two years my running aims have been ultra-related, with the 61-mile Fellsman, 66-mile Bob Graham Round and 68-mile Vanguard Way accomplished. Logically, I go longer. I am tempted by the 100-mile races on the South and North Downs, and the Thames Path 100. But tempted only. I will not enter. Not yet. The training required to run such a distance would gobble too much time in a life that is already thinly stretched. Or perhaps I am just making excuses? The West Highland Way Race is the only event that could tempt me to dally with near-100 mile distance
I want to be everything: a fast 5 and 10k runner, a sub 2.45 marathoner, a mountain goat, an expert ultra athlete. No man can be all these things and this man does not know which of these to be or at which he could be best.
Hence the crisis of running identity.
Having succeeded in my main goal this year (running the Vanguard Way) and having not thought beyond it, I am just going to see what happens.
That means a 5k midweek road race, coastal running in Cornwall, a series of Highland Games hill races, followed by a possible crack at the Thames Meander Marathon in late-August. Perhaps a summer of running experimentation will solve this identity crisis?
Finishing the Vanguard Way (above) at East Croydon station. The memory is still raw – and has, for now, put me off ultras.