From Zero to 250km Hero in One Year

In August, Ken Alderdice will be at the start line of RacingThePlanet: Georgia 2021 yet just one year before making the decision to join the race he struggled to even walk 5 miles.

Most people begin their fitness journey by setting a small goal, and then setting another goal once they’ve reached it, but for one of the racers in Georgia, things didn’t turn out how you might expect.

Ken Alderdice, a 63 year-old from Northern Ireland, is going from zero to 250km ultramarathon hero using what he believes to be a very simple training plan: just go further.

"I went for a walk. Then I went for a longer walk, and longer again."

Ken attended the Gobi March, one of RacingThePlanet’s 4 Deserts ultras, in 2019 as a volunteer and went home feeling inspired by the whole experience. The scenery, the travel, the community, and the achievements of the competitors all got him thinking – could I be one of the racers I’ve just spent a week supporting?

Ken Volunteering

It was at the start of Ken’s retirement in December 2018 when the desire to do much more really kicked in, having previously been told by his doctor that he needs to do something, anything, to improve his health.

“At the time I decided to do a 250km ultra, I would have struggled to walk 5 miles a day.”

Athletes, especially runners, talk figuratively of mountains – overcoming barriers, challenging oneself and coming out stronger on the other side. With RacingThePlanet you can expect figurative as well as literal mountains, and Ken hopes to conquer both types when he puts his training to the test in Georgia – the first race back after the global pandemic.

“I have been to the top of many mountains in the last year compared to only one in my first sixty years.”

Ken kept his plan simple at first – each time he went out he would go further than before. It was when he finally committed himself to racing in Georgia that he had his goal. He found that any hesitation would impact anything he did. When the goal was set, focus and accountability was gained.

Ken Training

Ken dealt with the repetitiveness of following the same route for all his training by paying attention to his surroundings – the sounds of the birds, the swaying trees and the breeze that flows through them, waves breaking on the shore – all changing with the seasons and making each time on the same route different. 

Experienced athletes will tell you that rest days are important, and they are. As Ken was new to this level of exercise, he at first found it hard dealing with the days when he knew he was meant to be training but his legs weren’t interested. Now that he had a goal, the start line in Georgia, he couldn’t listen to his legs and instead had to compromise.

“I had a conversation with my legs who were asking for a rest day, but we compromised, and I just went easier on them that day.”

Ken’s journey is a testament to what can be achieved by someone with no previous desire to run an ultramarathon: you start with a goal and work from there. It also goes to show how life-changing the RacingThePlanet journey can be!

Ken with friends

If you’re new to ultra running, or are interested in getting started, consider looking at the race calendar on our homepage and exploring whether signing up to tackle one of these races could give you the goal and the focus you need. Also check out our YouTube video on “How to Prepare for a 250km / 155 Mile Ultra”.

Whatever your level of fitness may be, RacingThePlanet have specially curated training plans to suit everybody. Take a look at our Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Training Plans to help get you started. If you need a little extra help in staying motivated, try getting in touch with a personal trainer. We have an array of recommended trainers who specialise in preparation for ultras that you can contact to help find a tailored plan to suit your needs.

If committing to a race in the next year doesn’t feel achievable just yet, why not sign up to become a Volunteer at one of our races, just like Ken? You can also sign up to receive our newsletter and be the first to hear about new races, RacingThePlanet news, and more inspirational stories from our community.