“What you wish you knew when starting out, based on what you know now”- now say that 5 times over. Tongue twister and mind boggler. Nonetheless a great question to reflect on and share with you so we can all learn and grow together. My “career” if you want to call it that, is something that seamlessly fit into my life, or so I thought.
When I started truely voluntarily exercising at the age of 15 years old it was to join my Dad on his long runs through the forests and coastal trails first on a bike and then on foot. It wasn’t for the Strava account or to get 10,000 steps a day but to spend time with him, see more of Australia and if I am totally honest; it was to find little cafes and get my meal paid for.
When I saw my Dad line up for his big race of 100km in the Blue Mountains I thought he was nuts, inspiring, a little silly and must be really fit. I watched all day as 2,000 people joined him for this course and saw that everyone was a little bit of each but mainly, they were just happy. I returned home and found the next 100km race that would let a 15 year old run.
This is where the lessons started: – 100km is a long way and a very special and privileged journey. I just expected my body to do it like all the 2,000 people I had witnessed months earlier do but it does take consistency, dedication and a certain mindset and stubbornness (Dad says I never lacked that aspect).
– “Alone you may go fast but together you will go far”. I love this quote. It sums up my immersion into the sport. I train alone most of the time but I thrive and find real joy when I can share steps with others, converse about stories and laugh at the good, bad, and ugly.
– They say that running an ultra is like living a life in a day. I couldn’t agree more. You can feel like you’re on top of the world in one moment and then be dragging your sorry ass asking yourself why you signed up for this and then alter back into rainbows, unicorns and good vibes. You start to learn that “this too shall pass” is something you will say to yourself regularly on the trails. Don’t get too comfortable with the ease of a run and don’t get too down if it feels tough. There is always time.
– "comparison is the thief of all joy”. Don’t just copy what you see your neighbour do. Take the time to listen, learn, educate, fail and try again for yourself. You are unique and things will work differently for you… and on different days!
– If you win, great. If you don’t make your PB thats okay too. If you don’t finish the race you are amazing for trying. You are not your results. Wins don’t make you any more worthy as a human just like a bad race doesn’t make you a bad person. Results, time, numbers do not define you. Having spent time with some of the best athletes in the world I can safely say you would never know their accolades unless you really push them to tell you.
– Goals are great but flexibility is so important. Listen to your intuition and don’t be afraid to not tick a box of training or racing because that was what you set out to do. The best decisions I have made in my career was stepping out of the start line as I felt “I was out running my love of running” and I needed a break. I was more proud of that decision than any finish or battle I have had.
– Find your ‘why’. Early. Understand why you are doing this, why are you dedicating yourself to this sport and running these distances. You’ll return to this many times in races and training. It should be the thing that gets you out of your cosy bed in the rain.
As you can see these lessons are mainly all quotes. Said by someone else. I read them all, then learnt them all in my own unique way. I can give you all the tips I wish I had known and you will go through your own journey and find your tips in your own way and probably come back to this article and nod with agreement that you learnt this too.
If you do what makes you happy then most times in life you’ll find you’re on the right path and keep going in that direction with faith in your heart, belief in yourself and a smile spread across your face.
See you on the tracks!
At the end of this time in my life I don't believe I will remember the wins and the loses but more the people I have met, the messages I have received that say "you have inspired me", "you're a great role model". For me, if sharing my journey and staying true to myself gets one person out of bed in the morning and challenges themselves then every step has been worth it.
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