Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why your training is just like your race.

Aside from my running, I have spent a lot of time on personal development and am NLP trained to a level where I could coach.  One of the mantras which always stays with me is “How you do one thing is how you do everything”.  It is amazingly accurate as you observe the high achievers achieve in most areas of their life, and the under achievers do so in their lives.

This has particularly struck a chord with me recently as while out running I have been happy to ease off the gas when previously I would have pushed through. I thought this was partly down to recovering from previous hard races, and events such as my 12 hour treadmill session. But having been reminded of the mantra I have realised that I have been behaving the same way across all areas of my life, and this is something I need to change – fortunately this is quite easy – just decide to change and do it!! This is why I have dropped off on the frequency of my postings in the last couple of months, and my energy has instead been expended on excuses!

Always worth the effort
So on my latest run, when half way up and I was about to walk, I rewound mentally about 4 months to a time when I was easily running all the way to the top. I dug in, and made it to the next tree, then the false horizon, then the big rock, and before you know it I’m at the top enjoying the cooling breeze and a snack. 

Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t easy, but then it’s not supposed to be. After all I’m training to get stronger with better endurance, and that won’t happen if I stay in my comfort zone. My main focus this year is my 1400km run in August, and you can guarantee I will be spending a great deal of time outside my comfort zone so I may as well get used to it!

I said making this change in attitude and performance is quite easy, but it does take a lot of mental toughness and discipline.  It’s setting the early morning alarm and not hitting snooze, it’s going for that night run when your favourite TV show is on, and having a piece of fruit instead of a bar of chocolate.

Camera doesn't do justice to this view unfotunately
There is a great parallel in ultramarathon running. It’s easy to talk it up big when you enter a race, but you need to be disciplined in training, which takes mental strength and commitment – the same strength and commitment you will need to get to the finish line and reap the reward, whatever it may be for you.

When you really get to grips with the concept of “How you do one thing is how you do everything” and relate it to yourself, you can then either adapt your training to suit how you do things, or change the way you do things to meet you goals. 

For me sharing this with you guys is a declaraton of a commitment to get myself back on track focusing on what I can do, not on excuses of why I can’t.  And of course realising that you can do far more than you think you can!

Run Happy


“What counts in battle is what you do when the pain sets in” – John Short


  1. Thanks for sharing Andy...v v true.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I really needed to hear this.

  3. Fantastic post. I think everyone needs to hear this. How often do we push ourselves during races and just wish that we trained a little harder so that we can run better. I know I do!

  4. Hi Andy,
    This post struck a chord with me, too -- thanks for your insights. I got caught up in the negative mentality of racing recently and lost the perspective you share above. Part of it was due to my return to road racing at shorter distances, which is not as healthy mentally as what I experience on the long, varied trail! My race report became a (somewhat humorous) advice piece on "How to Recover From a Race that Sucked," at if you're interested. Like you said, run happy!

  5. Great post, I love this quote "It’s easy to talk it up big when you enter a race, but you need to be disciplined in training"
    I have seen it so many times with people with this attitude and crashing badly when things got a little tough

  6. Hello Andy, I'm moved by how true your words are!
    I have the same, at times of intense stress and fatigue, when having a dinner with a friend sounds less of a challenge than getting yourself out in the cold to do your routine lap. My buds will tell me, come on, don't go killing yourself like that, tomorrow is another day. But then I know, when I'll be running my Race of the Season (I'm used to way shorter distances that you are doing), they're not going to be holding my hand all along. To help orient myself, I check out the race websites regularly, taking good look at the denivelation profile, I keep in touch with other runners who have goals of their own. Sometimes it helps to change your running routine for a moment: go out running with a friend you haven't seen in a while, or switch for a day on the bike, or for swimming. Or what do I know, have something exotic for breakfast ;P
    Keep running happy :)

  7. Good luck on your 33 marathons, that's quite a challenge. While most athletes know that we need to train hard to race hard, it's good to be reminded over (and over) again. I think I needed that reminder today. Personally at the moment, it's been harder to resist the chocolate bar than to go out for a run... But, I know I need to push through the pain on my runs more as well. Thanks!

  8. "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right."

    Henry Ford

  9. Andy: Excellent post! Commitment ebbs and flows. The thing about ultrarunning is that, when you have a race coming, training is an up-at-dawn, rain-sleet-snow, day-in-and-day-out thing, as you suggested in your post. This can be tough sometimes. Sometimes we just want to stay in bed or take refuge on the sofa. For me, this is a tough time of year since it's cold, but somehow I get it done. Not easy. Good job in getting yourself refocused.

    Also, as one great ultrarunner from years past said, "You are only as good as your last race." Wise words--we can't rest on our laurels.

    Good job and keep at it!


  10. Thank you all for your great comments, I really appreciate the feedback, and it is hugely motivating.

    That said I have a big excuse for the past few days, I'm moving house, so no running for about 4 days in all. True to my word though I did leave the house the other evening at 9pm for 20kms. Was easy really, as I couldn't stand the thought of staying in and watching the Twilight movie with my wife!!!

    The run worked out well with a "run, Forrest, Run", a wolf whistle, and to top it off I was hit by a full can of beer thrown for a car load of kids - no damage as it hit me squarely in the pack, another advantage of alway training with it on!

    Looking forward to getting back into the running routine from the new house :-)

  11. I really like this post. It is so true in every aspect of our lives, not only running. Thanks for sharing!

  12. ...and let's not forget "Modeling successful performance leads to excellence", an NLP presupposition. Which is why some of us are here!
    Thanks Andy