Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Running Is All About Focus

On Sunday I completed the London marathon.

I finished in a time of 3hours 13minutes, although it is only 2 minutes off my PB, in light of all my training and where my physical fitness is right now it was not a good result.

People say that distance running is at least 50% mental. I always thought that was about pushing through pain, being mentally tough to never give up and stuff like that. On Sunday I found out that it is so much more than that and I really wasn’t prepared.

As well as giving you inner strength and determination the mental side of the running is also about focus; focus to run your own race, focus not to be distracted by what is around you, focus to stick to your training. On Sunday I lost focus.

Here is my story of losing focus:

The London marathon starts at 3 different places, one for elite athletes, another for good runners and the last for fun runners. At different points the three sets of marathon runners all merge. I was in the middle start for good runners. The runners I was with were not expected to run much faster than 3hours 15 minutes and I wanted to run a 3 hour marathon. So when I started I ran away from my fellow runners. I went off far too fast. I lost focus.

After about a mile I merged with some of the really good runners. They were running really fast (well a lot faster than I am used to) and they were overtaking me. I am not used to being overtaken so much and so I started running at their pace. Again I lost focus and instead of running my race I ran someone else’s race.

I crossed the 10km point in 39minutes. If I had kept going at that pace I would have finished the marathon in a sub 2hour 50minute time!

I knew I was going far too fast but if running is mental I had left my mind at the starting line, I just kept going for it.

And here is where I completely lost focus. With the crowds swelling and cheering us on I felt invincible. I finished the next 10km in 40 minutes. I had really convinced myself I could complete my marathon with a PB of 2 hours 50! Within an hour and a half of starting the race I had slashed my target time by 10 minutes!!

As the race progressed my body paid for my mind’s stupidity.

At 16miles I started floundering and the last 6 miles was pure agony. All those people I had arrogantly run away from at the start in my group all effortlessly overtook me.

As one friend said to me afterwards, “You went off like a hare and finished like a tortoise”.

In the last 4 months I had trained my body. What the London Marathon taught me was that next time I need to train my mind as well. 

- For the people who are reading this who either sponsored me or tweeted their encouragement my next blog post will be about you - but in the meantime - THANKS!!

(The picture today is of the vest I ran in with my number still attached - I do that after each marathon as you can see from my profile picture which is of my first marathon vest following the Rio marathon)

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