Train, Compete, Believe

As we enter 2018, there will be many who have resolved to make their running faster. Just remember that success does not come wrapped under the Christmas tree. It is a process that you build on every day, every week and every month. Along the way there are small gains, rewarding times and frustrations. If you stick with the training long enough it will become a rewarding choice. You will have purpose and pride that will go beyond the doubts, discomfort, sore legs and bad races. In today’s society of instant gratification, you will have pride in the knowledge that you actually did it, rather than give up.

Despite all the new scientific and physiological knowledge, despite the technology that goes into the gear, your success boils down to the fundamentals. The price paid does not even guarantee success. That price includes: discipline, sacrifices, no distractions, no excuses. The 6am morning runs, the 6pm slogs through the dark, the rain and the mud. The sore legs, the blisters and chafing and the laps when your body says no more, and your mind wants to agree. You go through all that and are not even guaranteed of achieving your goal.

Quite often athletes ask me what it was like running the road racing circuit in the 1980s. It was a different era. We worked just to run. We saved money just to get the next race, slept on the floor of people’s lounges, until they politely asked us when we were moving on. In between running twice a day we slept. But we also did menial jobs like washing dishes at the local restaurant, cutting down trees in the forest and painting state houses. All that just to make ends meet. Was it worth it? Hell yeah. It was all worth the feeling of flying along the road, knowing that you were in control and everybody else was there to make up the numbers. It was worth it at the end of the race when everybody wanted your autograph. It was worth it when the race directors paid you, just to turn up. While I did not win every time, there are lasting memories and lessons learnt from each race.

This week, in a conversation with an athletics official, he made a comment. “Athletics is a funny sport. All that training and nobody ever races”. He was talking about the lack of athletes at Auckland Athletics track meetings. The Commonwealth Games are being held in Australia in April. Between now and then there will be many athletes aspiring to run qualifying times. But have they raced enough to achieve their goal? Hopefully athletes would have studied their training and race diaries to formulate when they previously ran their best race. On average it is most likely to occur from the fifth to seventh race of the season. However, along with this figure there should be some under-distance and over-distance races. To reach your 2018 goal, don’t forget to race. Each of the lead up races should have an interim goal, whether it be a time or a tactic. The fun and frustration of racing is all part of the overall goal of getting faster. No matter what your goal for 2018, good luck, keep believing. You will never regret reaching it, but you will regret giving up or not racing enough to get there.