As part of the buildup to my sub 3 hour BMW Berlin marathon attempt I’m running a 10k, 5k and half marathon to sharpen me up.

Taking place at the Finsbury Park Athletics track, this event was organised by Jacob Howe and Kim Butler. This series is in its second year and was sold out. I can’t fault the event, it was well organised, and split into seven different races from a predicted finish time of 20:20 down to sub 16:15. If you want to go for a PB I’d highly recommend it.

The only feedback is the finish timing was slightly off. Human error is just one of those things, I’m sure if I was timing I’d do the same thing, so I don’t want to be too critical about an otherwise great event.

Official race time 18:49. But I crossed the line in 18:48.

The race buildup:

I’m working with sports mindset coach Duncan Foster and he pointed out something my running coach John said. In previous training cycles, I’d be searching for the perfect in training and racing. This isn’t sustainable or achievable, as everyone has off days.

One way I looked for perfect was in the data from my watch. Coach John has been encouraging me to clock watch less when running, so I learn to trust my best effort.

Going into this race. My preparation wasn’t on point, I wasn’t focused to race. If anything I saw it as a training run I had to get through.

Also as a working parent, it’s been a very tough week, my daughter hasn’t been well and I hadn’t had a good nights sleep the week going into the race. I was preoccupied with life stuff and didn’t have the race focus or pre race nerves as a result.

On a hot Friday evening, my mind was frazzled from a day at work. I ran my warmup before and it felt awful, I felt tight in my legs and mentally I wasn’t in “the zone” to race.

With so much negativity in my head pre race I had to stop, give myself a talking to and get grounded, to give my best for 12.5 laps.

The moment I had to give myself a pep talk!

I recognised that I felt off, so I decided that I wasn’t going to clock watch. Because if you see your time slowing, subconsciously you can interpret it as a negative and give less than your best effort. I wasn’t going to give my power away to an external element during the race, when I had so many other external elements to content with.

It was a race, but I decided I wasn’t racing anyone. It was a training run and I’d do MY best.

Before the race I just felt off, I felt like I wanted to DNF after the first lap. But I thought about my daughter, and what example I’d like to set her. I couldn’t quit because it was hard.

The race:

It seems like I’m leading you down a path to justify a bad result… I’m not!! I’m just being honest that running doesn’t always flow.

At 19:15 I started in race 2, with a predicted finish between 19:00 — 19:50.

My previous PB was 18:57 and I crossed the line in 18:48.

I don’t remember much of the race, the noises blended into one, the shouts of the crowd, the buzzing of my watch, the race steward giving me 400m lap splits every lap.

I was focusing on counting down 12.5 laps, until I heard the final lap bell ring.

The first mile was sub 6 minutes, I was in third place. A few laps afterwards my legs were burning. Rather than it being a motivator to dig deeper, my mind wasn’t in it and I wanted to stop multiple times. I’d talk myself out of it. I’d repeat internally give the best effort for the moment, you’re in.

I got to the final 4 laps and thought, don’t quit on yourself. Keep going and don’t look at your watch. I got passed by a guy who was there to race. And stayed in fourth place until the end.

I kept telling myself… It was just 18 plus minutes of “discomfort”, that would be over soon… And then I could then rest.

The point is not all PB’s are showered in glory and self congratulation. Where it all flows. Some PB’s are ugly. In a previous conversation with Duncan he got me to look at how can I win the ugly moments. When your in a tough spot, how can you regroup and move forward.

The finish: 4th place and a PB

The race was just an ongoing conversation between the ugly and remembering my strengths. Not all races can you be fully in the zone, or have a mantra that keeps you focused, especially with life pressures being a big factor on my performance.

Congratulating the winner of race 2

Some races I’ve gone into and mentally prepared to race, place or win. I’ve achieved those targets. But today was the opposite.

I felt awful before the race due to lack of sleep, I felt off in the race. Before the race I had to stop and pay attention to these signals, answer them, park them and focus on what I could control for the next 12.5 laps.

Whilst mindset is important, crucially your only as good as the your training, you’ve done.

You can’t draw on a strength you haven’t experienced before. For the race I was having to draw on a lot of past experiences to finish with a PB time on an off day.

I’d like to thank:

  • My family, without their support training/racing wouldn’t be possible;
  • On Running for supplying the kit. Including the Cloudrush shoes, Tank-T, hybrid shorts and high socks. My kit reviews will be following soon;
  • Duncan at DSF Coaching for working with me in the run up to Berlin to work on my mindset for working towards a sub 3 hour marathon. I’m looking forward to sharing the content in due course. But rather than throw standard mindset tips at you, he cares about the work he does and takes the time to get to know what makes you tick so he can help you reach your best;
  • Coach John. Having a coach is so valuable. Whilst I’ve worked hard in training, without the structure and the experience I wouldn’t be this far along. Two PB’s in the 5k and 10k in this training block, thanks coach;
  • Maurten for fuelling my runs, I had one Gel 100 in my warmup and a 320 drink mix earlier in the day;
  • Tim Soar who was racing at the event. He gave me my first runner ambassador role, and makes high quality running wear. Beyond the kit he gave me great life advice when dealing with negativity online and sponsored me to work with my first running coach. When I was talking to Tim pre race, I didn’t realise it until after talking to him, that Tim was a catalyst to my running journey. Like Steve Jobs said you can only join the dots looking backwards.

📸 Photos shot by Duncan & myself on the iPhone XS

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