Q&A with Marcus Scotney – AW
Coach and former orienteering champion gives insight into how to tackle great distances
As a young man, Marcus Scotney had his highs from drugs. It now pulls them to run ultra races and help others achieve their running and sometimes life goals.
Weekly athletics: How did you start to run?
Marcus Scotney: I started orienteering when I was 14. It was the start of my running career. I won the Avon Schools Orienteering Championships when I was 16. running when I was 20, running my first mountain marathon with a broken jaw.
I joined the Beaumont Leys Running Club in Leicester in 1996 and excelled as a road runner. I returned to road running in 2002, while living in Dumfries, and ran a 69 minute half marathon in 2005.
AW: Why did you start doing ultras?
MRS: I had had a bout of depression in 2007 and decided to run the Devil o ‘the Highlands (42 mile ultra trail event) in 2008 in preparation for my first marathon later in the year. In addition, two of my fellow Dumfries Running Club members were racing for Scotland at the Anglo Celtic Plate 100km Champs. I was intrigued to hear their 100km race stories and thought that if they could get an international vest, I might, as I have always beaten them, beat them in the races.
At the same time, former 100km world champion Caroline Hunter-Rowe joined the club and started training me.
AW: What was your ultra favorite?
MRS: My favorite is probably the most difficult too and that is the Dragons Back Race – a five day race through the Welsh mountains. It covers 300 km with 15,000 m of elevation gain – every day is an ultra. It’s incredibly hard and demanding on the body and steeped in history. It completely shattered me and I ended up with a knee injury.
AW: And your greatest success?
MRS: Win and set the new course record at the Dragons Back Race in 2017.
AW: If you had to advise a âreasonable standard marathonâ runner to tackle an ultra, what specific type of run or race would you choose?
MRS: â¦ An ultra trail between 50km to 100km to start.
AW: How should this reasonable marathoner start training for an Ultra? Is this a “simple” increase in mileage or can you run a 50 mile run, for example, on a slightly adapted marathon workout?
MRS: Turning up the volume and reducing the intensity to build endurance is crucial. I find using a heart rate monitor to be the best way to measure this. You have to lose the ego and let go of being a slave to the rhythm and start focusing on the low intensity foot time. Training at a pace that feels easy and is conversational and builds the aerobic energy system is imperative for ultra marathon success.
Don’t be afraid of recovery, especially after an ultra. It takes a long time to recover, so taking a week or two off work is always a good thing.
AW: Refueling is obviously crucial for the ultras. Any advice there?
MRS: Find out what works for you, there are so many different energy products to choose from. I use Mountain Fuel and Clif Bloks in ultras and don’t deviate from it. It’s important to make sure you test any nutritional strategy during workout to make sure it works for you and that your stomach and intestines are used to the fuel.
The food stations at some races are famous for the selection of food available, this is one of the reasons I tell people that running an ultra is easier than running a road marathonâ¦ you can stand longer. a long time but you can stop at the checkpoint, eat a cake and have a cup of tea before leaving for the next aid station.
AW: What’s the hardest part of running ultras? Are you expecting to have a “dark period” and what advice do you have for coping with it?
MRS: There is a quote that says running an ultra is 70% mental, 30% physical. There are a lot of difficult stages in running an ultra, and running such lengths causes the body to break down and pain. It is in these “dark times” that mental toughness helps.
Developing a growth mindset is also a great way to cope. Visualization is a great skill to incorporate into training runs – visualizing yourself finishing the run with strength or running part of the route and how enjoyable it will be to run the ultra.
I have discovered that using meditation has helped me control my emotions in the tough times of an ultra.
AW: What is good about running ultras and what kind of runners are involved in it? Are they a slightly different audience than half marathoners and marathoners?
MRS: Ultra trail marathons seem to attract a different type of runner who is often looking for a new experience, perhaps to get away from other issues, and running an ultra proving themselves that they can overcome them.
There is a feeling of great camaraderie among the ultras. Even though they are competitive, people are more willing to help each other.
AW: You now offer running coaching …
MRS: I have been a full-time running trainer for the past five years. I studied sports science, am a certified sports therapist and am currently studying sports psychology.
I am fortunate to train a wide range of runner abilities, from those embarking on their first ultra or half marathon to British 100km champion Charlie Harpur.
AW: What would you say to someone considering their first ultra?
MRS: Deciding to run an ultra will be life changing. It has the power to completely change you and your outlook on life, as it gives you the opportunity to explore the limits of your physical and mental abilities, making you realize that you can achieve what looks like the impossible. .
It can give you the courage and strength to overcome the challenge of running an ultra and the challenges of life.
“ To learn more about Marcus Scotney, visit marcusscotney.com or send him an email: [emailÂ protected]