The Experience of a Long Distance Runner – Process vs. Target and Highlights

28th September 2015

Process vs. Target

Training takes time…. consistency, motivation, determination….. patience (a lot of it). It’s like riding a bicycle or a child learning to walk for the first time. By nature I am anything but a long distance runner…. my legs are fairly bulky and more suited to a footballer than many other good long distance runners I see around me at training and on race start lines. But my spirit is one of a long- distance runner and that muscle in my legs helps me fight for longer and take the pain that distance running gives you without doubt.

Having said this, over the years I am realizing that my body is changing though. Even my legs are slimming out. Mile after mile, workout after workout with patience, things do start to change. Things don’t change overnight though and I have come to appreciate and trust the process of training in this respect. Many people are more target based in their training and they set a race as a target and work towards it. That is important to have too but I believe a lot in a mix of target and trusting and understanding the process of training so as to become a better athlete ultimately.

I have come to appreciate the art of the process of training, the way one feels before, during and after runs. I analyse the data from my heart rate for most of my key workout sessions and identify improvement areas and what I need to focus on in my training sessions and key workouts.

In the end, every training cycle (approx 6 weeks) needs to have a scope and an objective. When all the training cycles come together then one looks forward to the performance in a target race. 

Race Day

After all the training it is time for race day. I treat racing like a performance to myself where I am the actor and the spectator. You put yourself under a microscope literally on the day. You approach the start line loaded with ammunition from all your training sessions leading up to the race.

It is also like an exam (of which we have done and passed many) but with a twist, with a sensation that each and every time it is priceless, different, and it transcends everything else you experienced previously. That sense of personal achievement like no other. It’s the road, yourself, and the clock….. a feeling of awesomeness most times if all goes according to plan and a natural high is guaranteed as a result.

Highlights to date

– Crossing my first Half Marathon finish line in February 2011 at age 31 – sense of exhilaration that no other sport had to date given me.

– New York Marathon 2014 – with over 51,000 finishers (largest ever) there was nothing like NYC and its marathon and the whole set-up including the cheering crowds on the route – truly something special and unique. An unforgettable experience that changed my view of running and life forever. The scenes in the last two miles in Central Park and the fact that I could run freely and liberally to the finish line was nothing short of amazing.

– Malta Half Marathon 2015 – from a training and mental aspect this was great satisfaction. I twisted my ankle in the days leading up to the race disrupting my final preparations but after a few days of rest and some physio sessions and exercises I was back on the road. Race day itself was wet, raining and windy. All conditions were against but with the “no excuses” mindset I just went for broke and pulled off a personal best time. Unique feeling!


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