By Hayden Shearman // Ahead of the Auckland Marathon I wanted to write a little motivation piece for the runners I coach and for the 80-odd TempoFit-ers who joined us for our Spring Season. So what better way to start it than with a Tony Robbins quote?!!
“Surmounting difficulty is the crucible that forms character.”
The race you’re about to do is more than a run through the streets of Auckland. It’s first of all a test of your ability to plan and to overcome unexpected hurdles (on average 80% of those standing on the start line will have had a running injury this year). But it’s also a test of your character—whether or not you know when and how to hold back and conserve and also whether you know when and how to go for it and reach deep into your well of perseverance.
On Sunday 2 November—once you’ve arrived at the start line in, Vaselined up, wearing your running clothes, your shoelaces double knotted, your transponder and race bib on, your nutrition and hydration strategy sorted, GPS charged and locked onto a satellite— there’ll be just two challenges left for you: 1) to conserve; and then 2) to unleash.
Nine out of ten times, whether you have a good or a bad race is determined in the first 5k of a half or full marathon. And I can guarantee you that 90% of those entered on Sun 2 Nov will go out too fast, feeling great for the first 5k, and then die somewhere between 5 and 35k.
Don’t be that person.
By now you’ll have a pretty clear goal time to aim for, or at least down to the first two figures (e.g. 1:4X:XX or 3:5X:XX). So long as the weather conditions allow (i.e. not too windy or too hot) your main goal in the first half of the race should be just to tick away at those target splits. Running with even effort levels as much as possible.
It’s for this reason I’d recommend being as relaxed on the start line as you can be. Take a little nap on a park bench, chat with the runner next to you about the NZ flag debate or what’s happening on The Block. Just chill. This will bring those adrenalin levels down, helping to avoid the mad rush that always occurs at the starting gun. If you’re yawning at the start line you will have a good race.
While you’re in this relaxed mindset, give a little thought to the fact that you’ve probably done more training than 80 per cent of those standing next to you. And that you plan to only really tap into the training at some point around the halfway mark.
As you head up the first few hills, keep this relaxed mindset. Be prepared to loose a couple of seconds on the uphills, aiming to make it back up when you reach the downhills and flats towards the second half of the race. (For more on the Auckland Marathon hills, read this.)
Throughout your training I’ve been encouraging you to hold back, to run the long runs easy and to finish the speed workouts knowing you could have done more if needed. This has helped to make you more comfortable with running long distances and helped you to relax when running at speed. The first half of your race is about taping into that (relative) comfort and relaxation.
In training we’ve gone to the well a few times but only just enough to get our bodies and minds used to being there and to make us hungry for going deeper on race day. Today is the day we go deeper.
For both the half and full marathons you should expect to feel in control up to the halfway point. The next quarter will be tough, but you’ve been here before. And then the final quarter (the final 5 or 10k) will be your chance to visit the crucible that Robbins spoke of. It’s the icing on the cake of all your training.
The rainy winter long runs, the hard tempo runs, the chaffing, the niggles, the planks and single leg squats, the not-so-foamy roller, the bleeding nipples—they were all geared to make you shine in this tough final 5 or 10k.
Make this part of the course yours. Claim it. Put markers on the backs of runners in front of you and gradually haul them in. Practice all those techniques we’ve discussed for improving your technique in the dying stages of the race. And enjoy the feeling of being fit and strong.
If you are moving faster than those around in these closing stages you will get more cheers from the crowd. Let their noise push you along. Attack the ground and perform every stride with intention of getting you to that finish line as fast as possible.
Finally, as you come down the finishing straight on Fanshawe Street, take a few moments (while your legs spin beneath you propelling you to the finish) to soak in the crowds, to soak in the atmosphere and to be grateful for your health, your incredible city, and all the friends and whanau who have helped you get to where you are right at that moment.
Afterwards join us cheering on the others and sharing race stories at 23B Westhaven Drive (outside Swashbucklers).
… Oh and don’t forget to carry on your fast closing pace all the way over every timing mat (because your time doesn’t stop at the first one!). Crucial.