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How to enjoy the race better

Lichfield 002At the weekend I attended my first half marathon. I wasn’t running in it you understand (!) but my fellas son was, and since it was in Lichfield which isn’t that far away from us we went along to cheer him on accompanied with my fellas ex wife – who I get on very well with, and who was also staying with me over the weekend. I was fascinated to see the preparation for the race, the warm ups and what some of them wore, taking in this new world that I have never experienced before, and was reminded of my life as an artist and the fascination that others have for it when they take a glimpse into it. And of course, it wasn’t just the physical preparations, there were the mental ones as well – the Positive Mental Attitude of getting into the zone.

The race started, and they were off, well over a thousand runners, all heading off with 13 miles ahead of them. I knew my fellas son wanted to do it in 2 hours if he could, so we went for a wander around the lovely city and had a coffee sitting in the warm sunshine whislt we waited for him to complete the course.

Since we wanted to see him pass over the finishing line we made sure we were there well before the 2 hour slot that we expected him in, standing right by the finishing post as the other runners came in, young and old, male and female, some absolutely at their strengths end, others with enough energy to sprint the final hundred yards. The 2 hours came and went, and we waited avidly for him to come in over the line, five minutes, then five minutes more, then another, until we spotted him, and cheered him on as he completed his race. But, he wasn’t at all happy with himself, because he hadn’t done it in the time he had set himself, he was 20 minutes over.  But, we pointed out, he HAD done his first half marathon, and had never run that far before, he’d done ten mile runs but not thirteen. And surely, that was a major achievement? I’m not sure he was convinced though.

Later on that day I asked him if he would do another race and his answer was a resounding yes.  And as we talked about it, he said that sometimes when he runs, he gets easily in the zone, and can do the run comfortably. But other times, he just can’t get into it, and the harder he tries, the more he can’t do it, and nothing seems to go right with it, and he tries to set himself a time frame to finish the race, and if he can’t he feels he’s failed. I tried to advise by saying that it was similar to when I attend an art workshop, and sometimes the art I do is great and I can frame it and sell it, and other times its rubbish and I am best throwing it away. I used to beat myself up over it, expecting myself to do better and produce a great painting each time, but now I have accepted that sometimes you can’t always produce a masterpiece. And instead of setting yourself a high standard each time and expecting that you will achieve it, its best to keep your mind open and hope that you will do something amazing, but accepting that you may not. Take the restrictions off yourself, try your best, and you will probably do better because of it.