For those of you who do not follow me on Facebook or Twitter (if not, why not?) you may not be aware that I recently completed the Florence Marathon.
‘No big deal’, I hear you say, lots of people run marathons; many of them considerably older than me and some of them with fewer limbs than me, or some other physical difficulty to overcome. So I appreciate this post is not going to be akin to a revelation on the road to Damascus (although I’m not sure if anyone is taking that road anymore).
However, it was an important achievement for me. Not because it was a great time – it wasn’t, it was the slowest of my four marathon times. Nor was it because Florence is such a beautiful city which made it ‘almost’ fun to run around. In fact it was not because of anything visible or obvious to anyone but me.
Anyone who read my last post ‘What Drives You?’ will be familiar with my thoughts in the final days before the marathon. Very briefly, I hardly trained all summer, developed an injury which stopped me running at all in September and October, and therefore was as ill-prepared as I could be and still have a realistic chance of getting round.
I did not run at all for more than two weeks before the event and my total mileage for November in three runs was about 26 miles – exactly the distance I had to run in Florence in one go. Clearly that amounts to a pretty abysmal performance on the training front.
It was obvious to me – and to everyone else – that I would not be able to materially affect my fitness levels in a couple of weeks before a marathon, in fact it’s potentially more harmful to try. So I concentrated on the things I could control – something we should all do for every aspect of our lives. No point worrying about, or trying to change, things that we have no power over, stick to the things you can change.
So I ate the right foods and supplemented them with protein shakes and carbohydrate powders – something I’d never done to the same extent before. I really loaded up and I believe I got the nutrition element right for the first time. When I finished I still had some energy, did not feel sick or dehydrated, and generally felt more together than I’ve ever felt crossing that finishing line. Tick for that box then.
My physio warned me my injury was likely to flare up during the race and could be very painful for a while afterwards. So I bought anti-imflamatories in Spain where they are stronger than over-the-counter ones available in the UK. I took pain killers before and during the race and I strapped my foot to reduce the pressure on the injured part.
I also used self-hypnosis to create a trigger (putting the thumb and little finger of my left hand together) to reduce the sensation of pain. The result? I didn’t have any problems for the first 15 miles. I got pain which I could remove using my trigger from 15 miles until about 22 miles. After that it was too painful for my trigger to overcome and I had to just put up with it. So I think that’s as good as I could have expected – therefore tick for that box too.
But by far the most amazing success was in the way I was able to tackle my belief in how badly I was likely to do in the run and my depleted determination which has been eroded to next to nothing over the past couple of years.
To tackle this I used techniques learned from Chris Walton, who taught me Psyck-K techniques many years ago. A week before the marathon I did another course with Chris, a more evolved, effective form of Psych-K which he calls the Gamma Healing Technique.
Very simply this is a technique which uses muscle testing to check your subconscious beliefs are congruent with your conscious beliefs. If they are, all well and good; if they’re not, you are running the risk of your subconscious mind sabotaging your goals.
So I focussed on digging deep when I needed to, like I used to be able to do instead of giving in because things were getting tough. I managed to keep going for the whole 26 miles, apart from a couple of walks to ensure I managed to drink most of my water rather than throw it over my face, which is a danger if you run and drink. In fact I repeated ‘Keep going’ in my head for the last three miles and did just that. So definite tick in that box.
And I also concentrated on getting rid of the belief that I was so poorly prepared I might not make it round, and even if I did it was likely to be somewhere just below the five hour mark. As a result of the work I did I was more confident about the run than I have ever been before and genuinely believed I might be able to get between four and four and a half hours. For those of you who know anything about running you will realise that is a time not really supported by my training.
I finally crossed the line in just under four and a quarter hours, only about 10 minutes slower than Amsterdam last year when I was much fitter and better prepared. OK well short of my 3:31 personal best but that was 14 years ago so I suspect I won’t see a time like that again. So at the risk of being accused of ‘marking my own homework’ I’m giving that a massive tick too.
To me it’s a powerful demonstration of the huge influence your mind has over your body, how your beliefs control your actions and how changing those beliefs can have a direct effect on your actions and therefore on your life.
If anyone is interested in more details about the techniques I used then please contact me, or you might like to read Chris’s book Gamma Healing by Chris Walton.
The Barefoot Bohemian.