Inside 100 Days – And Feeling The Fear

Less than 100 days now until I toe the start line for the first of 10 back-to-back marathons at Brathay. It’s time to start applying some serious focus!

This may well be the most extreme physical challenge I will ever undertake. I am determined to finish, but to accomplish this I must also treat the event with extreme respect.

Everything I do for the next three months has one overriding goal. I must get to that start line injury-free, yet with a fitness level that will carry me through 262 miles on one of the most difficult road courses in the UK.

This means that I need to be hitting 50 to 60 training miles per week on average, listening intently to my body at all times and dealing with niggles as soon as they crop up.

It means I have to unlearn my bad running habits, and incorporate all sorts of tedious and annoying stuff I never bother to do – stretching, leg-swings and core strengthening to name just a few.

And it means I have to grit my teeth and do some really unpleasant things, like ice baths and waxing and protein drinks, bleurgh. On the good side I get to have sports massages and learn unimaginable things about my anatomy…

The routine is often challenging, given long work days and regular business travel. But I have no choice, if I am to survive at Brathay. Fortunately though my physical fitness is slowly improving, and I am starting to feel more confident that I can handle the workload.

My training is structured around series of back-to-back runs. Currently I am on day 4 of a 10-day series – the last four days of which will be the Enigma Quadzilla, for a total of 145 miles in 10 days. More on that in another message.

The idea is to teach my body some “active recovery” skills. This is a fancy term meaning that you run on tired, aching legs – scrap the rest day, and suck up the pain!

(On a more serious note – your brain supposedly learns how to recruit the muscle fibres that were not damaged in the previous days’ workouts, and your muscle usage progressively becomes more efficient. The challenge is to do this without overstepping the fine line that leads to injury…)

But after all that talk about training, my reality is that the challenge is 90% psychological at this point.

I am afraid. Failure is my greatest fear – it haunts me on a daily basis.

I know for a fact that there will be many moments during the 10-in-10 where failure will be the easiest and most tempting option. At some point it may even appear to be the only option. Those are the moments when I will need the sheer guts to turn my back on the support van, and slog through to that day’s finish line.

I don’t think I have ever been tested like this, and frankly I don’t know how I will deal with it when the moment comes. I am hoping though that by anticipating it, I may be better prepared. To paraphrase my 10-in-10 colleague Keith Luxon: “if you cannot fail, then it is not a challenge”.

At the end of the day though, I am not doing this for myself. I am doing it to play my small part in helping kids from deprived and abusive backgrounds to regain their confidence and self-esteem. In the moments when I want to throw in the towel, I will imagine the hardship they have to endure on a daily basis, and hopefully that will be enough to get me moving again.

You can play your part to help me by telling your friends about my challenge – they can visit my blog here at, or sign up to receive my email newsletter at

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