A Runners Journal: Racing Shadows

Future races and Summer plans hijacked my mind today. Its been such a tough rehab, not physically but mentally, dealing with the gym and those same four walls. Doing gym work – which hardly stimulates me – has been a burden and starved my competitive edge for far too long.

Back running my mind is in overdrive. Last year I’d obsess over the intricate details of pacing, but with a new found freedom and Strava free approach I’m actually excited about RUNNING, not the race itself. Park Run was a real turning point, without my wrist as a distraction I got lost in the rhythm of the run. Sounds gay, I know. 

Looking back over the pictures, I was flying at times almost bouncing along the trails and yet it all felt so natural. I often look at race photos and note my form a little robotic and rigid. I seemed to access a complete range of motion in Dalby. Could losing the watch make that much of a difference? In reality hours of the gym work and drills are to thank, but it felt like so much more. My heads in a different place and the shackles are off.

Thinking it all through, something Jayson said months ago finally clicked. We discussed the ‘Lyke Wake Challenge’ – a 40 mile point to point race crossing the North Yorkshire Moors – and Jayson suggested it was a great race for me, one which suited me well. At the time I couldn’t understand what he meant, what was suited to ME exactly? 

The Lyke Wake is unique, each competitors start time is based on their predicted finish. The idea being everyone will begin the race separately but finish at a similar time. So in essence, you could run the entire course and never see a soul. Most likely you will be passing slower runners working your way through the field, which is even better.

That was Jaysons point. Such a race offers the perfect opportunity to just run and enjoy the route, lose myself in the Moors and not obsess over splits and what everyone else is doing. If I don’t know where the competition stand, I can’t stress myself out or set myself up for self sabotage. I love the idea of hitting that sweet spot, where I could run all day and just push the pace when the time feels right. I struggle to do that in a traditional race and yet it probably leads to a better finish time.

Racing shadows may not suit some, but for me, at this moment in time , its precisely what the Doctor ordered!

So yeh, I’m actually excited about running a route rather than competing in a race for the first time in two years…who’d have thought!

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Darren Smith

Training with purpose since October 2016 Darren has gone from trailing the pack to winning local races and the times keep on falling. A true believer in hard work over natural talent he writes to help others realise their true potential. Darren's race schedule for 2018 includes the Hardmoors Wainstones marathon (1st place), Keswick Mountain Festival (10th place), Scafell Skyrace and Salomon Ring Of Steall (World Championship race.)

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