Second Time Lucky: Mike Seaman on Running 100 Miles in 24 Hours
tfconnect wrote about Michael Seaman’s running escapades back in June after his first attempt at a ridiculous 100-mile ultra-marathon in aid of Events For Namuwongo. Mike is MD of Raccoon Events, currently gearing up for The National Running Show at the NEC next month.
In June, he fell short of his target by 20 miles, he did an amazing job and managed to raise a huge amount of money for the cause. Now, less than 6 months later, Mike has been at it again. As a long-distance runner myself, I was keen to catch up with Mike to find out what would drive a man to do such a thing to himself… not once, but twice.
Paul: What motivates you to run long-distance and how did you get into the sport?
Mike: I love the challenge – there is something pretty awesome about pushing yourself to your limit and then trying to keep going. I find it quite meditative to go running and I use it as a way to clear my brain from the stresses of work or day-to-day life.
I got into ultras because I found that marathons were getting too competitive – I was constantly trying to get better times and my hobby was becoming just as stressful as my job. With ultras it’s just about finishing rather than racing and it’s a bit of a different mindset to the whole event. Also there is the opportunity to eat lots of food as you go round which I’d say is 90% of my motivation – it’s one of the few sports where chocolate is a legitimate dietary supplement!
Paul: You just ran 100 miles in 24 hours! Tell us about this event – what did it entail and how did you end up doing it?
Mike: Well it actually took 29 hours but who’s counting! It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done – I’m really proud that I finished, particularly given that I’m not a proper runner – I weigh 15 stone, I eat terribly and I drink way too much so it’s a miracle that I can walk to the end of the road, let alone run 100 miles!
The course was 5 mile loops around my village in Surrey. It’s pretty soul destroying doing lap after lap but from a practical point it’s much safer as I was never more than 2.5 miles from home if anything went wrong. The first 50 miles were pretty easy but the last 50 miles were really tough. The temperature dropped to below freezing and running on icy trails in the dark with no sleep is pretty hard-core. I was in a bad way at 80 miles and the support crew debated pulling me off the course. Both of my feet were completely blistered, I could barely speak and bending my knees brought tears to my eyes. But I toughed it out and finished which just proves what you can do with a little determination.
I think the course suited me and I could just persuade myself to do ‘one more lap’, focussing on the near term goal rather than the long term one. The main achievement was that I burnt nearly 19,000 calories on the run so I was allowed to eat anything I wanted when I got back!
Paul: You attempted the same feat before and it ended in heartbreak. What happened to you and how did you feel?
Mike: That was horrible. I first attempted 100 miles in June at an event called Endure 24. I only managed 80 miles and could barely walk at the end. People were really supportive that I’d run 80 miles but I felt like a massive fraud and a bit of a failure. It really spurred me on to try again though – it was the first time I’d ever achieved a DNF (did not finish) in a challenge so it was just added motivation to get back out there and try again.
Paul: How do you prepare – both mentally and physically for an endurance race? Did you do anything different the second time around?
Mike: I run a lot that’s for sure. Whilst training for this one I was doing 100 miles plus every month – usually early in the morning before work. A typical day would be a 4am start, get a half marathon in and be back in time to have breakfast with the kids. I was supposed to stop drinking and eat better but I accidentally on purpose forgot to do that bit.
The main difference for the second attempt was that I ran a few longer races as part of my training programme – it’s really hard to find time to run 20+ or on some occasions 40+ miles but if you are serious about finishing 100 then I’d recommend you do this as part of the training.
Paul: The 24hr marathon is a huge strain to put your body through. Did either attempt have any effect on your heath or work in the short term? Do you think there will be any long-term effects?
Mike: I had a couple of days off work afterwards and had some acute knee pain for a week or so but now everything is fine again. I think I bored a lot of friends and clients talking about it but other than that it’s had no adverse effects. People often ask about injuries etc but our bodies are designed for this sort of thing – I find that really long runs at slow pace are actually less painful than trying to race a marathon.
Paul: What kinds of things do you think about while you’re running for such a long time?
Mike: Everything! Usually for the first hour or so it’s about all of the stuff that is bothering me and then after that it can be anything really. Most of my new business ideas happen when I’m out running and it’s quite nice to be completely free of interruption for such a long period of time.
We are always so busy and connected, sometimes it’s nice to tune out for a bit. That said, I have been known to do e-mails whilst running and sometimes take phone calls too – I once had my weekly 121 with my old boss whilst mid-way through a marathon!
Paul: Do you believe that the level of discipline that you practice for sport also has an impact within your business, day-to-day?
Mike: Absolutely! To be successful in events we need to maintain a relentless forward progress which is exactly the same principle that runners use. For me, having the right mindset in business is crucial to being successful.
Paul: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running in general and your recent achievement?
Mike: Showing my kids that anything is possible if you apply the right effort and mindset – I want to set a good example for them
Paul: Will you be hitting the trail again any time soon? What’s your next big goal?
Mike: I recently launched an event called the National Running Show and as part of our PR campaign a group of us will be running from the Olympic Park to the NEC over 5 days. It’s basically 5 and a bit marathons in 5 days in the middle of winter.
The people I’m running with are all ‘proper runners’ so I’m a little out of my depth but I think it’s going to be loads of fun and will give me a legitimate excuse to be late for build day! You can read more about the next challenge here: https://nationalrunningshow.com/the-towpath-challenge
Don’t forget the fundraising
Mike’s fundraising page is still live and he’s only £150 off raising 2k for Events for Namuwongo! Please show him some love and donate to support the industry’s adopted community of Namuwongo.