10th July 2015

Five Things you can learn from my First Marathon (without having to actually race)

Last Sunday I ran my first ever full marathon on the Gold Coast. I chose it because the course is fast, it’s fun, it’s warm and there are plenty of places to celebrate afterwards. In the phases leading up to the marathon, the race itself and now in recovery, I learnt a whole lot about myself which I can now call upon and use for the REST OF MY LIFE.

To save you all the trouble of a five month training regime and a whole lot of pain and time, here is what I learnt:

1.    Get a Plan and Stick to It

Training, pre-race prep, the race itself and recovery all required their own plans. By sitting down and creating a plan for each phase, I knew I had a formula for success. While I needed to adjust my plans a little as I went along, all I basically had to do was execute. Easy.

Learning: Plans help you do stuff successfully. Just make sure it’s a good plan. If you don’t have the knowledge/power/confidence/capability to make a great plan, get someone to help you.  

2.    Train in Worse Conditions than Game Time

My usual prep on the leading up to my long training run didn’t exactly mimic the day before a marathon and race day. In fact, they are entirely different. I’d be working, out with friends eating cheese and generally waking up five minutes before my long training run to pull on whatever gym clothes aren’t in the wash and just start going.  Now according to professional advice this is the worst thing you can do, but I wanted a life as well so I kinda ignored the pros. What this meant for me was that when I actually got to the race, I was in a better position than I was used to and it felt freakin’ unreal.

Learning:  Practice and if you can, practice in conditions that are harder than the real thing. It makes the real thing seem a whole lot easier.

3.    There’s Nothing Wrong with being the “Little Engine That Could”

A common mistake of marathon runners is to go too quickly at the start. However, this is the worst thing that can happen because three-plus hours down the line you can’t maintain the speed you started, and you can implode into a pit of despair before you reach the end. And that will be a bummer.

Learning:  There is nothing wrong with slowing down a little in life to make sure you can reach your end goal.  Life is a marathon not a sprint (I now know what that saying really means)

4.    A Smile can overcome Everything

Everyone knows the power of positive thinking, but actually acting on this can change your mindset. By forcing yourself to smile, you actually trick yourself into thinking you’re happy. During a marathon you experience the full range of emotions – from incredible highs (the last 200 metres) and deep lows (usually about 30km in).  Being able to smile through the lows and change your mood is a big help.

Learning: If you’re sad, stressed, having a bad day or just need a mood lift, make yourself smile to help get yourself back in a positive and productive mindset.

5.    Teams Rock

You think a marathon isn’t a team sport, but it can be. As I was trotting along I saw a formation of Korean weapons. They had bright yellow t-shirts with “No Guts, No Glory”, they had a leader who kept track of pace, GU’s galore and some amazing spray that appeared to obliterate pains with a single squirt. They kept together, they encouraged each other and they absolutely smashed the race as a team. When my pace (which matched theirs for 15kms) dropped, they kept going, in perfect formation and finished way ahead of me and exactly to plan.

Learning: Whilst you can do a lot by yourself, you will always do better, and have more fun, if you do it with others.

I learnt so many more things in this race, but I think these five were the most important. They will stay with me, and even if you don’t have a crack at the 42.2 km distance of a marathon (which I recommend you do at some point in your life if possible), then maybe these learning’s can help you as well.

Elise Barter

Principal Consultant

Generator Talent Group

 


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