Let me take you back to the 2013 Great Limerick Run. I was fit, I was ready and I was determined to run a sub-four marathon.
I was totally focused on my running. Too focused in-fact.
Around mile two of the race I realised that I had forgotten to use vaseline. Any seasoned runner will be recoiling in pain reading the previous sentence.
What could I do? It’s not like I could turn to another runner and ask them for a blob of theirs. Who carries a jar of vaseline around a 26.2 mile course with them?
Adding to my problems I had refused to carry my phone with me after it had been suggested by a few people - I argued that it would weigh me down.
My thoughts turned to the impending pain that excessive chafing brings. I resigned myself to being a bloody mess at the end of the race, if I finished at all.
Luckily, my brilliant wife, an accomplished runner, had copped my foolishness and was waiting on O’Connell Street in Limerick city just a few minutes after my realisation with the necessary tub!
Crisis averted and off I went.
I decided there and then that I would never again do a race without some confirmed back-up support along the route.
Your family and friends are an invaluable support unit. Don’t underestimate their worth to you as a runner.
If you like a certain kind of food or a drink at a stage in a race, they can be there for you to hand it over as you pass by.
If you need plasters, a dry running top, a hat, sunglasses or anything, make sure you have someone who can get it to you when you need it.
That’s why I run with my phone now. It’s great to be able to give a quick ring to my wife and let her know what progress I’m making, how I’m feeling and if I need anything.
It’s also great to see loved ones along the route. It provides such a boost to tired minds and bodies when you have support and encouragement.
You’re running the marathon but these people are with you throughout the training process, putting up with your mood swings, nursing your injuries and giving you pep talks - as well as that extra little push on race day.
The best part of a marathon is seeing the people you care about at the finish line and sharing the glory of your achievement with them.
No one does a marathon totally alone, so cherish and appreciate your supporters and make them feel part of your team.
To the people that have supported me, I say thank you. I am forever in your debt.
Another level of thinking
I attended the Tri Talking Sport event at Cork City Hall last week and was absolutely humbled to hear the stories that led to the achievements of athletes Gavan Hennigan, Ray O’Connor, Sonia O’Sullivan, Frank Greally and Gerry Duffy.
There are not enough superlatives to describe the heights they’ve hit and a non-competitive, keep-fit runner like myself can only marvel at and learn from what they have done.
What struck me is that they all had a story and had to overcome adversity and setbacks to get where they are.
Why are they so successful? Their level of thinking.
What they conceive, they tend to achieve because they focus on the process of making it happen and do what they can within their control.
It’s astonishing what you can accomplish when you get rid of negative thoughts and concentrate on the task at hand.
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