You may think that running 3100 miles in 50 days bears no resemblance to any event you are aiming for.
If I’m honest, this is EXACTLY what I was thinking.
Training for a half marathon or the full distance is so tiny compared to running nearly 3 a day that it almost doesn’t count as the same ball park.
To paraphrase Pulp Fiction, “ain’t the same ballpark, it ain’t the same league, it ain’t even the same sport”.
But as I listened to ultramarathon legend William Sichel dissect his epic feat, he began to explain that the lessons that he had learned applied for any event.
He may have been referring to an ultra-endurance race around a half-mile block of New York in the summer but it works just as well for the London Marathon or the Southampton Half Marathon this weekend (other races are available but I’m running one and a lot of friends are running the other!).
Here I’ll try and pass on some of his hard-earned wisdom:
Clear and Precise Goal
The most important thing is to finish.
No matter what distance you are running, finishing should be your first target. Everything else is a bonus.
In his own words, “you cannot train for an event like this”.
“You can train for the heat and you can put miles in your legs but nothing can actually prepare you for running such a distance.”
While this doesn’t sound particularly helpful, it is worth remembering that your training will not have taken you the full distance.
If training for a marathon you usually only get up to around 20 miles so you have not fully prepared for the distance.
This doesn’t mean that you are not prepared.
You are as prepared as you can be. You have put in the training and you now have to get through that extra distance whether it is three miles, six miles or…ahem…3000 miles.
Self Talk and Focussed Breathing
As simple as “you can do this”.
Just talking yourself into believing that you can continue or speed up can do just that.
By Day 19 of the 52 day challenge, William was 72 miles behind the average daily miles required.
It would have been very, VERY, easy to just give up and go home but instead, he used simple chants and focussed on his breathing to run a negative split second 1550 miles.
Effectively, he brainwashed himself into carrying on and you can too!
Focus on NOW
Running gives you a lot of time to think and faced with a long distance event, inevitably this gives you a long time to think about how far you have to go.
To avoid this and focus on “the now”, William chose to ignore the lap counters and total mileage and simply work on each lap at a time.
Thinking about the daunting miles to come would have been the quickest way to disenchantment.
Instead, by focussing on what was going on rather than what was to come, he was able to continue waking up each morning and running the 60+ miles required.
When running a half marathon or a full marathon, don’t think about what is yet to come.
Try and focus on what is going on around you at that particular moment.
Interact with crowd or take a moment to look around you rather than worrying about something in the future.
If you are struggling to find your own motivation, try to think about other things such as charities you are running for or people that have sponsored you.
In the case of the 3100 mile race, William had a number of sponsors (which can be found on his website) plus he was raising money for CLAN Cancer Support Charity.
Have a think about who else is with you on your running journey.
Anyone can do it
It is often thought that those who do extraordinary thing are naturally blessed or have God-given talents.
I think it is fair to say that William Sichel is not the perfect physical specimen; as a child he was knock-kneed, one leg is 2.5 centimetres longer than the other, he had a “weak chest” with repeated chest infections for 10 years, he suffers from a weak stomach (vomited in 97% of all 24 races to date) AND in 1997 he was diagnosed and overcame testicular cancer through surgery and radiotherapy.
The man has taken life’s knocks and still managed to break over 153 ultra distance records.
If he can do all this including running a 3100 mile race, I can do my race in May and you can complete yours!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank William for coming down to Run and Become and taking us through his amazing journey in such a humble manner. It was as if he was describing a walk in the park!
It’s almost impossible to describe some of the figures and stories he told so try and get to one of his events if you can.
You can find out more about his projects at williamsichel.com, project165.com or on twitter @williamsichel
I’d also thank Adrian Stott (@TaritTweets) from whom I stole nearly the entire the intro to “Part 1” but it was so good I thought I should borrow (nick) it.
Additional thanks to Run and Become for putting on some cool events. I am already signed up to a Q&A in May by Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run. Also, most of them are free!!
Thanks to Spontaneous Beauty on Flickr for the pictures.
And finally, thanks for making it all the way through to the end!
I hope that your running adventures go as well as William’s and you have a great time this weekend and in the future.
2 thoughts on “WIlliam Sichel – Part II”
Thanks for that Sam. An interesting read. I had hoped to get to Run And Become for William’s talk but was unable to make it on the day.
Thanks Richard. I honestly could’ve added loads more details but it would’ve been a huge article so tried to cut it down as best I could.