Marathon runners consider there to be six major marathons, namely Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo. I’m not happy with this list for two reasons,
- The Medihelp Sunrise Monster is not on that list and it’s a son of a bitch
- Three of the races are in America and I think we need to give one to Africa. I mean Chicago, what the heck? Why not the Cape Town Marathon or the Kilimanjaro?
Regardless of my feelings, the running cult..I mean community take these very seriously. I only grasped the seriousness of my London Marathon campaign around the time the countdown of days entered double digits. I realized that I am going to run one of the most sought after races in the world for a charity that is very near to my heart. This got me thinking, what have I learned throughout the process.
- Work hard
It’s bleddie tough to train for a marathon. I think I have some natural running ability but very little compared to some of the people I surround myself with. For London, I worked hard and had to make sacrifices. Not that I’m complaining, I loved most of it. I ran hundreds of KMs prepping for the race and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I value hard work so looking back I am extremely proud of waking up early on so many early mornings and getting my ass in gear.
Ole Gunnar said something interesting when he took over as the Man United manager that has resonated with me. He said that Manchester United players can’t be outworked on the field. How great is that. We sometimes tend to find fault in our surroundings, but we never ask if we did the best we could have.
- Listen to the people around you, but do what works for you
The people around me were really great, everyone had their own tidbits that added to my race prep. Some of the advice that I received was really good, but some of it was utter shit. My role in the process was filtering the good from the not so good. One of the best tips I got was what brand of socks to wear. Socks! Socks are the more boring than listening to a Liverpool supporter go on about how many points they got and still came second.
People offer the best of intentions in life but there is often no one size fits all. Do you, but don’t disregard the advice entirely if you already have a plan. Listen and have a go. If it doesn’t work then go back to your original method – no harm done.
- Get a plan, stick to it (as best as possible)
When I first went to see my bio to discuss running the marathon, she asked me my time for my previous marathon and the type of training I did. She could see the correlation. As we planned my run, she was adamant that I have a solid training plan and that I stick to it as closely as I could. There were some days where I couldn’t and I was okay with that. It made the whole process so much easier, I knew what I had to do and got on with it. It would have been near to impossible if I just hacked around.
Hacking around is easy, it’s comfortable. I hear tons of young people in our business talk about their ambitions but lack the plan to meet their goals. Get a plan, write it down (if you are super serious) and stick to it. The thing that can be as dangerous as not having a plan is deviating from the plan, so consistency is key. You might not see results immediately and there might not be a definite point but the long term, incremental progress will be worth it.
- Giving as part of the process makes it a hell of a lot sweeter
Part of my entry was raising money for charity. The running part is pretty sweet and the medal at the end is a cool consolation prize, but my true happiness came from watch the fundraising needles tick upwards. It was particularly special for me, because the charity I chose was close to my heart. I was tasked with raising R10k and got close to triple that. I also found happiness in hearing people’s stories on how my charity resonated with them.
Tons of our focus is around personal growth and moving up the ladder, but there is something awesome in seeing good being done for other people. I’m not saying you need to join the local CSI initiative and change the world. I am saying give back to the community in some way. There’s a TEDtalk with Rodney Mullen where he talks about developing tricks in skateboarding. He says that our role in communities is to advance them, by progressing the skillsets etc in the community, then feeding it back into the community so others can do the same. Mentor the poor shithead millennial in the office that talks too much about Bitcoin and thrift shops. The world will be a better place for it.
- Sometimes all your plans fall apart on the day
Months of prep, physically and mentally couldn’t prepare me for the heartbreak of getting cramps half was into the marathon and having to limp through parts of the race. It sucked. Sometimes shit happens and you need to get on with it. One of the things I late gran would often tell me is that we need to get on with stuff, regardless of it is fun. Cramps are not fun, but at no point was quitting the race an option.
Naturally bitter as I crossed the finish line I remembered the journey, both on the day and the months of prep. I had an absolute blast and no amount of cramping could have ruined that.
I’m beginning to sound cliché, but life is going to suck sometimes. We know this. Races will go badly and presentations will be shit at work. My natural inclination is to laugh about it, plan to work harder and get on to the next part stronger and more enlightened. Chaplin said that life is a gag, so laugh a bit and enjoy the scenery.