This is not a synchro specific post, but it is all about competing and the lessons we can learn from sports in general.
It seems like so long ago, but I can tell you that the days leading up to the Edge-to-Edge Marathon in June were the most exciting and long (yet scary days) of my life. I had never run a marathon before and I had only done 1/2 marathons as a part of my training. The longest training run I did was 32km and it went pretty good, but I had some shorter runs around 24km’s that did not feel so good. A marathon is just over 42km!
I had no idea what I was really in for. What I knew for sure is that it was up to me to finish. The only way to get to the finish line was to keep moving. So what did I learn . . .
1. Training is key.
I could not imagine what I would have felt like if I would have done any less training. My training was not ideal, but I did enough to finish the race in 5:08. Not fast, but I had skipped most of the hill training and this course had almost nothing but hills. There were so many hills I could see the next one I had to run up as I ran down one. Other runners would let you know when flat spots were coming up. On the flip side it would have been nice to get a bit more training in so that my time was faster, but when I crossed that finish line it did not matter. Because of all the training I was able to get in I was able to walk normal the next day. Can’t speak for others who raced with me, but ran faster.
2. It’s in your head.
Whether it is the training or the race, most of it is in your head. Around the 25km mark of the race I was feeling pretty negative and thoughts of giving up were creeping in. In fact, I probably walked for 20-25 minutes straight at that point. That was my first battle, but after I got to the turnaround point and got some electrolytes in me I had burst of energy. Then around 35km’s I started to run up some of the big hills again. Another battle ensued. This is where I reminded myself the more I walk the longer it will take to finish. It worked and ran to the finish line. The harder you challenge yourself on a daily basis the easier the battles get. In training I rarely skipped the long runs even when the weather was bad or the times at the end of the training runs when my body wanted to pack it in.
3. Train with others.
I failed miserably on this one. I think I would have had more success at adhering to my training plan if I would have trained alongside someone else or even joined a running group. I did pretty good going mostly solo, but having someone to go through the battles with would be helpful. What are the chances that you and your running partner will be suffering at the same time. I did end up running most of the race with someone I had met at the start line. It sure was helpful to have someone with me who would curse out loud at the hills. I never once turned my iPod on. I either talked to others the entire time or was trying to motivate myself.
4. Set clear goals.
When I first started training for the marathon my original goal was to just complete one, but then as I started to train I wanted to run faster and faster. The reality was though my training plan was geared to finish a marathon and not run fast. Next marathon I will set a goal time and base my training around that. Now it will be easier to do that because I know what to expect.
5. I am hooked.
All I could think of after running the marathon was my next one! That’s right. Even as I write this I am a bit jealous of those running in the Edmonton Marathon tomorrow. Whatever I choose to do next time, I am determined not to run for so long. I also am not sure if I will go the 1/2 ironman route first or marathon. Both involve lots of training.
I am convinced that running the marathon was the hardest sporting endeavour I have ever accomplished. It was even harder than the 5 minute free teams I once swam. I think what really makes races like this hard is the fact that almost everything to do with finishing the race is up to you. Until you get over the finish line your race is still on whereas in synchro I can only think of one time that finishing the routine was near impossible. And that was due to bronchitis. No matter how you felt you still finished the swim through. Maybe it was executed a little bit lower or a bit unsynchronized, but the pain ended quickly and often was over before you knew it. There always seemed to be a little rest section somewhere in the routine. The marathon seemed to never end and at one point, walking even became laborious.
The biggest lesson I want you to get is that the harder you can push in practice and the more you can push through the uncomfortableness of practice the easier it will be to accomplish your goal. Be unshakeable at training and unstoppable at the competition.
I did it and I feel empowered. Now I want to get a really good time. Going to start with sub 4 hours, not sure when that’s going to start. Still trying to heal up two toes that got “runners toe”.
What is the harder thing you have ever done? Share below or The Online Synchro Coach Facebook page.
Yours in Synchro,