From zero to ultramarathon in 8 weeks!

Find out how I went from total beginner runner to running 30 miles in just 8 weeks!

Debs Thorpe

7/5/20245 min read

It was December 2022 and I was in one of those restless moods.

I found myself pacing around the house, partly trying to find something to peak my interest and partly in reflection of the past year. I was tired from having given my all to work for years and for that being the main area of challenge in my life. I felt like a part of me was missing, like I was existing more through my life than carving my way through it.

I found myself looking back through all my old cadet photos and accolades longing for the feeling of a good physical challenge. One that I took part in because it lit up a part of me that had rarely seen the light of day for the past few years.

Yes, I’d achieved huge amounts building a business from the ground up, creating a sanctuary for thousands of clients and instigating so many amazing memories with my family.

But that little girl within, who loved nothing more than proving someone wrong who told her she couldn’t do something, she needed some air.

I decided that doing some kind of running challenge every month in 2023 sounded like good fun and a point of focus to keep me going. So I spent the next few hours trawling websites for events that looked fun and different. That was my only criteria.

It didn’t take me long to pull together a year of events that ranged from 10k’s to ultramarathons. To clarify, an ultramarathon is any distance over 26.2 miles (a standard marathon).

To put this in a bit of context, I’m not a runner.

I don’t even exercise regularly. And for as much as I like the idea of running everyday and training properly, that isn’t what excites me or motivates me. As I discovered even more clearly throughout this year of running events, I like the edge. I like rocking up with no training and seeing how far I can push. Maybe that’s exactly why and how I was able to go from not running at all, to completing 30 miles in a single event within just eight weeks of starting…

I explore this more in my own healing journey blog post, but I truly love ‘little Debbie’- my inner child. She is so fearless in so many ways. She loves living at the edge of the known. She is naturally curious, excitable, passionate and creative. And in her world as a child, she deliberately placed herself in situations outside of her comfort zone because she loved the growth on the other side of it.

Painfully shy and unconfident in many ways, I joined the Air Training Corps at 13 years old and went on to compete in athletic events, camps, climb the Yorkshire Three Peaks, gain promotions, play in the marching band, become a marksman shot and volunteer at local charities, to name a few. It was five years of my life that propelled huge growth.

And then I got married and moved away, and it all stopped. My life became smaller and the challenges ceased. I didn’t realise it at the time, but little Debbie wasn’t getting the space she needed to feed the inner growth she craved. I sought this in different ways, mainly my career, but it’s only now looking back, do I realise that I needed to experience personal challenges without the pressure of finance, providing for everyone and needing to keep the machine turning because so many people relied upon it.

I needed to experience my edge but in a way that was surrounded by freedom.

So whilst it didn’t make any sense to anyone else why I suddenly decided to embark on a year of running challenges, it made total sense to me. Little Debbie had been suffocating under the pressure of adult life for way too long, she needed some air and I was going to give her that no matter what.

Whenever people ask me how I have completed the events I have, especially given the lack of training, it comes back to that promise to myself. I had spent so many years abandoning myself in the pursuit of moving forward that completing these challenges was the highest form of self love I could give myself.

I have learned all too well the cost of not following through on my own promises and nothing was going to stop me, this was the tide that needed to change and what a year for that it turned out to be…

Little did I know back in December 2022, that the decision to embark on this year of challenges would be the thing that got me through some of the darkest and most intensely stressful times of my life as the decision was made to close my company and begin to build again. You can find out more about that here.

Actively reaching for and connecting with Little Debbie is what kept me able to keep doing the hard things in life, and during that year, there were many. Feeling Little Debbie breathe deep when climbing hills with her legs raging with fatigue, the sheer elation of running full speed downhill being at one with her body in those moments and allowing herself the freedom to trust and follow her feet, the breathtaking beauty of the paths less travelled and falling back in love with the life that is happening right here and now.

Those events were my path back to her and in turn she held my hand as I made decision after decision that required a depth of courage that only she contained.

This, to me, is walking the WholeHearted path. To keep on meeting ourselves anew when another layer gets uncovered or let go. To know our true self so fully that the power contained within is enough to see us through the hardest of times. To be able to meet the world from a place of genuine love and connectedness.

For most events, I took along my GoPro and recorded the experience. Partly to document my journey and show races from the experience of a beginner runner, but also to enjoy the process of re-living the inevitable highs and lows of going to the edge. You can check them out below (they are a good window into some beautiful parts of the world as well as the WholeHearted Life in action!).

How to embrace being limitless

1. Make a decision

Decisions are incredibly powerful when utilised correctly, especially when they are made from your core values and true self

2. Connect with your inner spark

Just as I connected with my inner child, you need to connect with your 'juice' (I talk more about that here) and use it as fuel for the journey

3. Act as your future self

To truly embrace being limitless, you will take the lead from your future self. You will connect with the limitless part of you and take action towards that