Marathon running is not easy……it’s a discipline, that requires well, discipline.
You can’t just rock up to a marathon start line and expect to:
a) do well;
b) not feel like you’re going to keel over;
c) not want to keel over and for the ground to swallow you whole;
d) continually ask some inane power to ‘make it stop’!
A good marathon performance is built on hours and hours of lonely, mostly miserable, usually hard miles and that’s the fun part! There are usually days where it’s blistering hot and your thighs and nipples chafe until your pissing claret. Then there’s the days where it’s pissing down with rain and your thighs and nipples chafe until, yep you guessed it, are pissing claret! Then there’s the days when all the cyclists in the world must be out, because there’s a gale force headwind beating you in to submission for 2 to 4 hours, curse those damn cyclists and their perennial headwind!
Then there’s interval training, hills and speed work, which if you want to seriously think about breaking PB’s you must crowbar in to your training. Intervals and speed work are as about as comfortable as sticking drawing pins in your ‘Runderwear’ and cracking out a cheeky half. I mean seriously how can something where you’re trying to run yourself into oblivion, with your heart trying to burst out of your chest and your lungs falling out of your ring, not be fun? Hills, they’re a giggle too, and it’s all shits and giggles until someone giggles and shits!
Then factor in to the equation that you want to run a specific time, say you want to break 4 hours, you need to be putting in at least 30/40 miles a week, want to break 3 hours and your over 60, on the way to a hundred, running twice (sometimes three times a day) I mean seriously, who has that much time on their hands?
And you have typically, 16 weeks of this hell, which means you’ve probably run somewhere in the region of 600 to 1200 miles before you’ve even got to the start line “and if you survive all that you’ll be a marathoner my son!”
And all that for one marathon!
Actually, I enjoy it, scrub that, I love it, it’s become a passion. I’ve found training for marathons to be one of the most therapeutic and life and health improving things I could have latched on to. I, like most, used to run for fun when I was younger, it was easy, I was fast!
Now it’s not easy and I’m no longer fast (by my younger self’s standards), but I’m fine with that, because if nothing else, I’ve learnt that I can endure. I’ve learnt that if something wants to break me, it’s got to work a damn sight harder than I’m prepared to do, to do so. The lava rock on Corfu, tried, failed. The worst conditions in Boston on Marathon day in 40 years, tried, failed. 100 peaks in 25 days, tried, failed.
There’s a pattern forming here, and it’s called ‘mindset’. You don’t have to be an endurance runner, an adventurer, an Olympic athlete, or indeed a superhero to develop this mindset! It’s built within all of us, you can be a superhero, of your own story, the mindset is nurtured from that first moment after the ‘honeymoon’ of setting that goal, has got up and gone.
It is fed and grows as a result of that first freezing cold, pissing down 5am alarm call, after that great idea you had, becomes a “why the frig in all that is holy, did I think that would be a good idea” idea, rudely awakes you and you have to bounce out of your pit to tackle that misery head on. However, here you get two for the price of one, how lucky is that BOGOF?!
That first plonk of those nice warm feet on the carpet has started a chain reaction, it’s called ‘Discipline’. The first time you say ‘YES’ I’m up, I’m doing this shit, Discipline, saddles up alongside you and says “let me introduce you to my muckers, Pain and Suffering!” Now on the face of it, Pain and Suffering don’t sound like ‘stand up’ fellas, to be fair, they’re frickin nasty bastards, but like most things nasty, if they can’t beat you, nothing can. Why? Because you have a new ally, and his name is yep you’ve guessed it ‘Mindset’. If you let him, he’ll become your new best friend, and you will need him, if you’re going to get from that goal you set down, to accomplishing it.
Victory, is a product of the fight, and if you have the right mindset, because you’ve been disciplined, that fight is a hell of lot easier. Ultimately everything is a lot more rewarding when you a break a sweat as opposed to lying in a pool of it, under a nice warm duvet!
I know this is very much Marathon focused, it has to be, because obviously as stated in the title, I’m off to Chicago in 2 weeks time to earn my fourth World Marathon Major. I’ve probably had the most uninterrupted and possibly productive training block I’ve ever had. Admittedly, I’ve sacrificed some elements of my training for increasing my run volume again (as I did for Boston, which I aim to correct after Chicago in preparation for Tokyo), which has created issues with bio-mechanics, which I knew would be a possibility. I’ve also still got that niggle in the back of my head, that although I’m happy and comfortable running the big miles, I’m not sure where my knee is at post the injury in Corfu.
However, here we come back to trust. Because, I’ve been disciplined I can trust in the process, who knows what conditions we’ll face on the day, but ultimately because I’ve stayed in the fight I’ve given myself the best possible chance of performing as well as I’m able come marathon Sunday!
Success is personal, it’s not to be measured against others. If like me, you are chasing goals, set that alarm clock, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and remember be disciplined, hard work makes the dream work!