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Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Race is Only So Long and Then Its Done: Perform

Chicago Tribune | Chicago Marathon: Mosop sets course record, Shobukhova 3-peats

Sunday, 26-year old Moses Mosop of Kenya debuted at the Chicago Marathon and broke the record with a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 37 seconds. The Chicago Marathon is known as the flattest and therefore the fastest qualifying marathon. Although only one runner was the course record breaker, the other 35,669 accomplished personal goals of their own. As runners raced through 15 Chicago neighborhoods they inspired the community as committed goal-setting believers; it was infectious.

Not everyone is a runner but everyone has their own marathon. Takeru Kobayashi's marathon is hot dog eating. He set a record at the 2006 Nathan's Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest of 54 hot dogs in ten minutes and recently ate 69 in an unofficial venue. As a goal one sets and is determined to reach, a marathon can last ten minutes, two hours, or a lifetime. Regardless of medium, marathoners prepare in similar ways. The process always includes: commitment, train, discipline, injury, train, failure, train, perform and run the race. 

In running, commitment means signing up in January for an October race. Commitment is admitting that four months of training is enough preparation time for running 26.2 miles consecutively. Commitment includes selecting a training schedule, revising your diet, and washing running clothes more frequently. Commitment is icing an injury twice a day for a smooth run. Commitment is packing running shoes on weekend getaways and choosing water instead of coffee or soda as an afternoon cocktail. 

Discipline is dressing in running clothes before going to sleep in order to get up and out the door in the morning. Discipline means getting up at 5am on a hot summer day to get the run done before it hits 90 degrees fahrenheit. Discipline means minimizing drinking and shortened Happy Hours on a Friday night because your long run of 13 miles starts in eight hours. 

Training means discovering muscles in the body that are usually latent and figuring out how they help or hurt a run. Training means testing socks, shoe brands, and energy bars, and learning your tolerance for Goo. Training means putting your body to sleep when it is not tired. Training includes accepting injury and running through it when possible or failing and then figuring out how to overcome it. Training is learning that "runners high" is rare and most importantly training means figuring out how to find and maintain focus.

Image from Fleet Feet Sports in Chicago

Training also means devising a psychological strategy which is critical to the success of running a marathon. For example, I convincing myself I am a mile behind. It is surprisingly successful but my running partners think I'm insane - when we pass mile marker 16, I repeat "15, mile 15". Another technique I use enables me to defeat hills (this was helpful at the New York Marathon). I manipulate my body form by pushing my hips slightly forward until I feel my upper body and, therefore, my eyes are perpendicular to the slope of the hill. Psychologically, if I read the ground as flat, it seems like I am working less.

Takeru Kobayashi's uses a technique called The Solomon to eat quickly.  He splits the dogs in half and dunks the buns in water before eating them. He then proceeds with the "Kobayashi Shake",  a technique where he shakes his body forcing food down and densely packing his stomach to physically and psychologically manage additional eating.

When it comes to race day, the adrenaline will push you further than you imagined. Whether your marathon is running or eating food, keep yourself in check remembering all that you learned through training or you won't last the length. Regardless of type, performance is key and in some cases, a marathoners performance surpasses expectations.

Apples New Headquarters image by Core77

PCMag | Report: Steve Jobs Left Behind Plans for Four Years of Apple Products