Before I ran at Naseby Great Naseby Water Race (GNWR), I thought the course format of 10km laps would be a real mind numbing challenge - how wrong I was!
Laps can be several things, including such training techniques as hill repeats where you run up and down the same stretch of hill, but for most people it's a circuit that you repeat. It doesn't have to be circular, just have the same start and end point and be repeated. Many people think that running loops/laps will be boring, but why would we design what we think is an amazingly awesome course if laps were boring?! I can say however that before I ran my first 100 kms race at Naseby GNWR I was dreading having to repeat something I'd already run multiple times. I thought it was going to do my head in! Where was the fun in that? But wow was I wrong. And I thought it might be helpful to share my experience to show others the benefits of lap running.
At Naseby I actually found the format of running laps really really helpful. It meant I didn't think like “OMG I've still got 70km to go”. Instead it was “I've got 7 laps to go, and 7 is a small number – easy!” It sounds silly, but it really did help. And if/when the mental or physical going got really tough you can break the lap down into ¼ lap and smaller portions along the lines of “Once I get to that spot up there I've only got a ¼ lap to get back to the aid station - I can shuffle along that far and quit then” and then of course you get to the aid station and you have worked through that particular bad patch and buoyed along by the spirit of all the supporters encouraging you, there's no question of quitting!
And logistically it's easier for you too – no need to carry all that gear with you in case the weather changes umpteen hours after you started. By passing through the same point regularly, you get to leave everything except the immediate essentials in the car/tent. Navigation is easier too – you don't have to worry so much about going off course and getting lost in the dark. It's still possible I guess, but the simple fact of having trotted around it a few times by then