Your Fit Project

Hi guys,

This one is a unique one as we have purposely built the business around everyone else being the hero of our story. However, I got out of the coach seat and into the vulnerable position of competitor recently and thought I’d share my experience…. My first marathon

Holy moly… 42.195kms its taken me 3 weeks to write about it but I’m still amazed that we actually did it. A good friend and long-term client Damian Brunow signed up for his first marathon about 5 months ago now and convinced another friend Kath Shaw to sign up to her first half marathon. Over a beer after another event we did called True-Grit, when he said it something inside me was scared, almost calling me out, the choice was simple then, I had to do it. There is something exhilarating and scary and humbling all at the same time about stepping up to any start line but particularly one you haven’t ever stepped up to before. You know that feeling when you have butterflies in your stomach, your really not too sure how you’ll go and what the next part of your life (immediate, short or long term is going to be like) but that’s when you know you’re alive and anytime you go through anything amazing it starts that way. There is also a level of vulnerability that comes along with being in the fitness game and then putting yourself up for a challenge that you really don’t know if you’re up to or not. Our whole vision for Your Fit was for people to be able to climb their own mountain whether that be a body goal, a physical challenge or one that keeps being redefined such as Kath’s or Damo’s. The authenticity and enjoyment that comes from that process though is the very reason I felt I had to do it and the reason why the experience as difficult and hard as it was, was so special.

The preparation…

12 weeks of 3-4 runs per week, ranging in distances from 5km through to the longest 36.5km run. It was pretty gruelling and I won’t sugar coat it, at times I was wishing I wasn’t a person of my word and I could back out. I remember running 24km on some ridiculously warm Brisbane September day and thinking to myself “all I have to do is sprain my ankle and I would have to pull out” but that didn’t happen and no excuse early days presented itself so on we went… we just kept running. As the long runs started to become more routine and I started to enjoy the time away from the studio and my desk, I loved the freedom of the run!

The handbrake… with nearly 250kms behind us in our individual preparation and having run up to 26km at a time I hit a snag… shin splints https://www.health.com/fitness/shin-splint-video. An unfortunate problem, that has caused many a runner plenty of pain before. What it meant was I couldn’t go fast, at about the 5-minute km pace I was able to manage the pain bit run any quicker and I couldn’t maintain it. It sucked and wasn’t fun but it meant that any illusions of grandeur I may have had about chasing down a finishing time were removed and I certainly wasn’t going to pull out now. Turning my back on the promise I’d made Damian and Kath and all those km’s we’d done to that point. So we figured out a plan with my physio Charlie Cordery a lovely young bloke who I saw weekly in the final month of the prep. I used compression socks (which actually worked to reduce the calf tightness) and with a reduced running load replaced by rowing we were confident I would get through but that meant the longest two runs prior (32 and 36.5 km) were still in front of me.

That 36.5km run two weeks before the marathon… OMG, it nearly killed me. Because of the nature of our sessions morning and evening;  the only time I have to run is in the middle of the day and Friday was the day I had organised in the calendar for the long runs. This particular Friday was HOT! Nearly 30 degrees and I started at 11am, not my brightest moment but goodness me I hit a number of walls along the way, sore calves, shin splints, windy, hot, all the excuses in the world I kept going over in my head to stop. But when I got to the 30km mark something happened, I just started balling, I was thinking about my wife and daughters and started crying. Now, I’m an emotional guy at the best of times but this was different, I couldn’t control it, sounds weird but I’ve only ever experienced that one time before and that was at the peak of Kilimanjaro, this sense of being somewhere else. It was a roar sort of state, almost like I was stripped back to a bloke with two legs that wasn’t going to stop despite the rhetoric in my head that was suggesting otherwise. I’ve done a lot of reading and professional development throughout the year and a book suggested was Dr. Russ Harris’ the Happiness Trap https://thehappinesstrap.com/free-resources/. In the book, Russ describes the concept of self, a fairly difficult concept to explain but the book describes it a lot better than I, the first self being the thinking self or mind, a constant state of thought, analysing, worrying, catastrophising but surviving something essential for us to have evolved as it prevents us from getting eaten by that Sabertooth. The second is the observing self the sort of headspace you create by observing the thoughts and feelings without engaging with them, its almost like at the 30km mark, the observing self, was there reassuring me, I’m still here and you’re good and Amy, Elsie and Grace are with you to. Those of you that have tried meditation before may be able to empathise, it’s that meditative state of calm almost looking at the thoughts/ feelings like traffic on a highway, anyway it was a pretty cool experience I just wish it took me a few less kms to get there! SO… to the driver of the station wagon that drove past me crossing the Hornibrook Bridge, I promise I’m ok, I’m just a guy that loves his wife and daughters that runs in 30-degree heat on a Friday arvo:(

That run though was harder than the marathon, I was by myself in a world of hurt and it would’ve been really easy to just not finish. But having finished that run gave me confidence that I could do the marathon. Little confession… I may have miscalculated my run that day and the 36.5km landed me at the other end of the Sandgate foreshore to where I parked so I got a cab the extra 4 km to my car, no judgement here (right guys :))

Race day… 7000 people take off in front of the tennis centre in Melbourne, the morning was hot, nearly 28 by the time I finished. Damian and I were frantically trying to find each other and did just prior to the start gun but it meant we were well back in the pack and it took at least 3.5km to settle into a decent stride without having to run around people or apologise. The plan was pretty simple…. run 4 X 10km runs with walks through water stations at each of the 10km marks with additional stops if I felt they were needed. That’s what I did, walking through 7 stations in total but it was an angel supporter at the 38km mark that was my hero. As we ran through Yarra Park and round onto Flinders street, I was mentally turning from struggle street onto desperation road, this was officially the furthest I had ever run, I was slowing and as much as I had prepared mentally there were still 4kms to go so it wasn’t as if the finish line was right there. It was that real ‘glass half empty or full’ moment and I was definitely taking the more negative approach at that point. People were dropping like flies, from 30km on it’s like a war zone with paramedics tending to people falling all over the place, the heat wasn’t helping anyone and there were a few peeps that were probably trying to wing it and unfortunately, a marathon doesn’t let you get away with much! As we turned onto flinders this wonderful woman, a mum of one of the runners I’m sure; changed the game for me. She held out a half of a zooper-dooper and I know the red bull tagline but I’m telling you that frozen pink, fairy floss flavoured ice block gave me wings! Thank you Zooper Dooper Angel, Thank you! Interestingly I never got that same teary moment that I had in the lead-up run… something in that I think.

Anyway, I was back and better than ever, I was hustling everyone, high fiving, telling people they could do it. I had three gels left in my flip belt so I started throwing them to people stopping with cramp, I was ON. The next 3.5kms are like a blur and then the final 700m was amazing, you circled the MCG and at this stage I wasn’t really aware of my time or where anyone was in the stands but I ran up the players race and heard the crowd, in amongst them my mum, dad, brother, sister in law and daughter (Amy’s was still in Brisbane)…. I flew past those in front of me and crossed the line with a shout out from Dad. It was an unbelievable feeling, I was shocked I had completed it but once I stopped I nearly fell over, the euphoria quickly wore off and was replaced by pain in my shin…oh o!

The main question I get asked is would you do it again? The question I ask myself is what would you do differently if you did?

Preparation…

1. Run with your mates, we had an amazing bond between the 3 of us, we text every long run and in between and were so invested in each others experience I wish I had arranged my calendar so I could have actually physically run with the guys more, its so much more enjoyable when its not just about you. I can’t thank Damo and Kath enough, I love being a part of a team and that’s exactly what we were!

2. Include calf raises in my strength training program prior to the running starting, strong calves prevent shin splints, mine are weak and then they were tight and then I had to manage them. I’ve actually never been a massive fan of the exercise, thinking it was a bit more vein than functional, preferring squat or box jumps in their place. Having started the rehab on my shins now I am forcing myself to fall in love with them and they’re working!

3. Strength train more… my cardio was fine, I could hold a conversation, my heart rate was fine, I just didn’t have enough left in my legs, the shin splints really hampered the experience. Including sand dune running, cycling into running and swimming as well as increased resistance training would be my self-advice next time around.

Game Day…

1. Get closer to the start line before you start, there are pacers with how fast they will complete the marathon in, get close to the mark you are trying for and don’t hold that too tightly but make sure you’re not hampered by a start that doesn’t allow you to get into a stride.

2. Nutrition and fluid replacement is essential, one gel every 45 minutes and plenty of water to replace the sweat your losing, the pauses in the running at water stations are investments in your post 30km experience.

3. Nipple chafe is real, band-aid up, it wasn’t an issue in training but my wife bought me a good luck present in the form of a 2XU singlet and I nearly lost my right booby.

4. People = energy, I love people! In her book the Strength Switch (a great read for most parents https://www.leawaters.com/) Dr. Lea Waters head of positive psychology school at Melbourne University, describes strengths as qualities that energise us when used. When I talk to people and find out what’s important to them, it gives me energy. My self-advice = run at a pace where I can chat to people at least for the first 30kms and then the final 12 work hard.

4. Don’t underestimate the war zone, just how hard 32-40km will be, every squat, every calf raise, every wall sit, every run, every ice bath in preparation is worth it, you won’t regret it.

I’d like to also acknowledge my wonderful wife, with two young kids and a business together it’s a fair ask to nick off for the amount of time required to run but there was nothing but support and love and I wouldn’t have done it without her.

So would I do it again?

In a heartbeat, its been one of the best things I’ve done for my own confidence in a long time, I loved it. It was hard and tough and one of the more rewarding personal experiences I have ever had. I snuck in under 4 hours but I want to complete one pain-free and chase down 3:30, my brother has told me he is keen to do one so stay tuned (or switch off) might not be the last time you read about me running.

 

Thanks for reading

Sean

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“I have been training with Amy for about 4yrs & I can honestly say she is the BEST trainer I have ever had. She knows exactly how to train a woman's body & she gets results! She always sets new challenges & is quick to fix my technique, while explaining why & how my body should feel & react, which allows me to get the best out of each session. In addition to that, Amy is a wonderful, caring & positive person that gets along with all personalities suiting each individuals needs & strengths.

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