Danny's Marathon Story: It all comes down to this
All the work has been put in and the big day is just around the corner for Danny. The marathon experience is different for everyone and the learnings for each individual will differ, but here Danny reflects on things that have stood out for him throughout the process.
"With race day just around the corner, the preparation work is done. I can say with some level of confidence that no stone has been left unturned. It’s now taper week! This means a week of recovery, reduced mileage – and really focusing on the challenge ahead.
At 0900 on Sunday 20th October everything needs to come together. The training, the preparation, the diet, the sheer determination. We’ll find out whether or not I can execute “in the moment” – and I cannot wait. As l reflect, its pretty apparent to me that I’ve spent my entire adult life constantly searching out that moment – both at work and in a sporting context. I’ve constantly searched for ways to test myself right out at the edge of my boundaries, that place in the deep water where my feet cannot touch the ground. That sink or swim scenario. That moment. The last serious challenge took me into the world of combat sports and MMA. Believe me, walking out with your chosen song playing, crowds cheering, family present – and standing face to face with your opponent – that’s a moment. I’ve realised that I’m obsessed with making the uncomfortable comfortable. There must be something wrong with me!
Since the last update, so many miles have been run and so much has been learned about myself and how to prepare for the marathon. Training has become even more intense and demanding – but so has my focus. Its not been easy managing marathon, family, and work commitments – but the choice is a simple one. You either elect to manage the situation or you don’t. You are either in or you are out. There is no middle ground. Longest training run went to 24 miles.
Trying to capture everything I’ve learned is difficult - if not impossible. For sure there have been so many instances of marathon training experiences translating into my work life. For sure the training has improved my fitness but also improved my general mental health and resilience at work. I’ve attempted to pick out some further key learnings below:
Speak to the experts: In a previous blog I had highlighted how I had learned some fairly harsh lessons relating to pre-race nutritional preparation and hydration to support the longer distance runs. In short, I’d determined that I wasn’t carrying sufficient fluids for the runs exceeding 18 miles. I’d learned that 800ml was all I could carry – but I was loosing +3.5kg (5%) of body weight during these +18 mile runs. I was speaking to another more experienced runner about this issue. His advice was simple and genius – but I hadn’t even thought about it. This person pointed out that I should invest in a second hydration waist bag. Then, I should deploy / hide the second bag on the route of the longer runs. Then, I could simply swap them over! So simple that it’s ridiculous – but I’d missed it completely. The difference was incredible. Whilst I’d been restricted to 800ml for long runs – I now had access 1.6 litres! The difference in performance was just extraordinary. My splits for the latter stages of the long runs improved substantially. Indeed, when I ran the 24 miler in training, the second 12 miles were 15 secs per mile faster than the first 12 whereas before I had been hanging on for dear life in the latter stages. Whether its in sport or at work – seek out the experts and they’ll have some absolute pearls of wisdom for you. You just have to identify them.
Embrace new technology: I understood the value of technology right at the outset – and I was using my Apple watch to monitor performance and share the information with my running coach (I was also using the watch to monitor sleep). Mid way through the programme a friend (and mutual runner) flagged some major advancements in running shoe technology to me. Nike had released a shoe that was supposed to improve efficiency and performance. I was sceptical. However, I remained open minded and began to read the research. To cut a long story short, a review of the research and through conversations with people that had worn the shoes – I was convinced that there was a marginal gain to be realised. I made the investment. Technology is moving fast in sport and at work. Be prepared to be open minded and embrace new technology.
Work hard. And then some: I’ve actively searched for every single marginal gain that I could identify throughout the training programme. However, if you don’t work hard then all of the peripheral marginal gains become irrelevant. I’ve committed to 30 weeks solid training. I’ve completed every single session – regardless of weather, work commitments, everything. If you want to embrace the moment then you have to do the hard miles away from the lights, when no one else is watching. You have to earn the right. This approach, without a doubt, translates into my working life. I work hard, really hard – and the harder I work the luckier I get. Strange that.
Enjoy the journey – not just the moment: In the past I think I’ve been too focused on the moment, the end goal – the business and sporting objective. That’s great because it keeps you laser focused. However, there is so much positive to be had from embracing and enjoying the journey too. I’ve learned to be much more reflective on the way to achieving long term goals. Much more prepared to review and pivot, much more prepared to challenge my thinking and to constantly check my blind spots."