Im sitting in bed and its 9pm on Monday night, one day post Melbourne Marathon 2014 and I am reflecting on the journey that has been up to this point in my running career. It has been quite a ride, and one that I will always remember as the year that really got me started. When I first started being serious about running I remember training for my first half marathon and I remember clearly thinking that there was no way that I was ever going to make the distance.
Every training run I got closer and closer to my goal, and the pride I felt on race day in 2012 when I crossed the line of my very first half marathon in the country at the Dubbo Stampede in the Central West of NSW was a day that I will never forget. A fire was lit in me that day. I remember saying to my husband at the 18km mark that I just couldn’t go on and my mind was conquering over my body, until he told me that I COULD in fact go on and that I WOULD finish and just get on with it, and so I dug deep and I pulled out something from deep within me those last 500 meters of that race. So much so that I sprinted off and managed to beat hubby over the line! The fire was one of accomplishment, empowerment and belief so strong in myself that I would not give up.
Flash forward a year and a half later, four marathons and five half marathons later, a 30k trail run, a few smaller events and hours and hours and kilometres and kilometres of training and what I know I know now about myself is very different to what I thought I knew about myself in that very first half marathon.
I know that I can do the hard yards and do what I set out to do and I know that I have so much more that I could do and I will do in my running life while I still have the chance, two legs, lungs and the willpower to get out there.
Last year when I was training for my first marathon it was all about finishing. Finishing was the main priority as to be honest I really had no idea what to expect. I had never run a marathon before and it was a very steep learning curve indeed and rightly so, finishing should be everyone’s first goal. Every run was aiming to just tick of the distance, and I didn’t focus on speed or technique, just clocking the miles.
When I signed up for my second marathon this year at the Gold Coast I knew that I wanted a different experience. I wanted to see what my body was capable of and I knew that to do that I had to put in the work. There wasn’t going to be nice slow runs every day of the week that didn’t challenge me anymore…there was going to have to be something hard. Something to push me out of my comfort zone and to that PB that I was so desperately aiming for. These are the things that I know got me there.
1. A good coach. A good running coach is worth the investment. If you really want to step it up to the next level and like me, really don’t know where to start, then a coach is your answer. My coach had me change my running so much that it didn’t look anything like what it once was. There was speed sessions, interval sessions, long runs, recovery runs, cross training, core work, pretty much everything that I wasn’t doing. Yes, it was hard but the feeling of accomplishment that I get after every session, even when I look at it and think “there is no way I can do that”, is amazing. You can check out our coach at www.coachkate.com.au.
2. Eat well. Not only does eating well mean that your not carrying all that extra weight that just may mean that you are not going to get that PB you want, it also means that your body is getting all the right fuel it needs to do the job, to recover and re-build during the training phase. I paid real close attention to my diet during the last few months, making sure that I was getting enough fuel for all of my training and restoring my body with the right foods to replenish and repair it. On race week I played particular attention to my carbohydrate, protein and fluid intake to make sure that I was going into the race with the best possible stores I could to get me through.
3. Get enough sleep. Rest. Rest. Rest. 8 hours. enough said. I felt it when I didn’t get it and I made sure that things got put away and sleep became a priority especially leading up to race week.
4. Mentally prepare. For me this almost seemed bigger than physically preparing for the race this time around. I knew I could run a marathon. I had done it three times before, but what I didn’t know is if my ‘mind’ would let me keep going when the going got tough, which it most certainly would. As my last coach had said before, visualise the race, especially that last 10km. Visualise the pain, visualise the finish line and visualise you smashing your race basically. I admit that I didn’t go into Melbourne with much of an idea of the course, which probably could have really helped me as I found some parts very hard as they just stretched on and on forever which made me really disheartened and I found myself really using my skills that I have learned visualising to get myself out of that situation. So in the race I remember saying to myself “don’t give up, keep going, you have got this, yes it hurts but push harder, around this bend your going to increase your pace, then hold on for the ride…etc etc.” There was one part in the marathon where my mind finally got the better of me at around 37km and it said “just have a little walk break” and so I did. In that moment (for about ten seconds) my visualising mind kicked in and said “NO WALKING”. you WANT that PB. I missed out on my goal time in the Gold Coast by 1 lousy minute and I was not doing that again. So from that point on in the race, no matter how much it hurt there was no walking allowed. I repeated ‘stay strong’ over and over in my head and it worked.
5. Put in the hard yards. You just have to. You aren’t going to get a PB by being doing the bare minimum. If it means waking up at 5am to run hill sprints to increase your endurance and recovery for a hilly race, then you get up and run the hills. If it means 3 hour runs every weekend to get your legs used to the miles then you run 3+ hours every weekend. If it means pushing yourself in training to places you haven’t been before, then you do it. You do it because YOU want it.
6. Remain injury free. Pay important attention to form, and focus on recovering and stretching after running, using the correct footwear for you and making the most of the local massage therapist to keep you limber.
7. Listen to your body. let it rest when it says it needs it and push it when you least expect it.
8. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself, your training and your goal. And then chase it.