How to run The Archies
Do you trust your trail shoes?
I may not have 100% trusted my trail shoes (too old and too worn through) but I had enough trust in myself to get through this 7km part of the trail (4-mile spur) in order to work to my strengths for the remainder of the race.
Peace with thy self
I have to be at some sort of peace within myself knowing that trail descents are not my strength; actually, I am very honest in saying they are my weakness, my Achilles heel if you wish to say but it’s this acceptance that allows me to get through these parts of a race with such grace and humility. Sure many (many) people pass me on technical descents, that’s OK because strength comes from knowing yourself and most importantly trusting yourself.
What is endurance?
The definition of endurance is: “the ability to endure an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way” and it’s with this and experience that trust is developed. I know myself as a racer, I questioned a little bit of this self when I wasn’t racing in 2019 but as I line up now on the start line, I am confident in how best I race. And that is within myself.
Never give up
The journey to the start line at Mt Buller was far from easy, actually it was extremely stressful if I truly think about it but it wasn’t until I landed in Melbourne did I allow myself to think about it.
There were COVID outbreak scares, border restrictions, quarantine rules, flight cancellations and flight delays days before I was due to fly out to Melbourne. On the Wednesday morning I had accepted that my journey to the mountains was going to have to wait a little longer, my need to see my trail family was to be delayed by a month or two (maybe) but something told me deep down inside to keep fighting while there was something to fight for.
I became very familiar with border rules and how and if they applied to me. I had hope and I was going to keep it alive by believing in the universe. I was for once, quietly optimistic.
It not over until it’s over, you don’t know the outcome until you can no longer fight and if endurance sports has taught me anything, it’s too bloody keep fighting. Perseverance paid off, it had too. I had too much love at the other end waiting for me and I needed to be close to it in order to top myself up, I needed a half full cup not half empty.
The journey to the start of a race is never linear and this journey was no exception.
Working towards weaknesses
We should not shy away from our weaknesses but welcome them with open arms. Invite the challenge into our heart and believe that with the openness we will give our weakness some strength.
Staying strong with our strengths
I am not complacent with my trail strengths, they too can lose their power but when you see them go from strength to strength in the right environment, it can’t help but bring a smile to your face.
I may not have felt my undulated flat speed on the sweeping trails, I waited until a 12km ascent with an average gradient of what felt like 13% to really find my strength and this confident boost continued with what has always been a weakness of mine, the last 9km of this race. I surprised myself, I was happy and proud – if only the cramps had stayed away.
Run your own race
As I descended down the glorious 4-mile I had a train of runners behind me and at one stage I said ‘this is about the time I say, we must run our own race’. This sentiment took me a long time to understand but with time and experience, I now understand what this means. I not only understand it but feel it.
Smile from the heart
A smile isn’t just seen from the face, it’s also seen from the heart when you truly appreciate just how lucky you are. I raced with such appreciation, learnings and authenticity; its these qualities that show growth as the endurance runner that I am today.
Dialled in on nutrition
People often ask for advice of what you fuel with during endurance events, I think back to what I had when I first started racing to what I have now and its vastly different. How?
It is only through practice and listening to my bodies needs that I have been able to dial in on what I need to fuel me for various distances. I only use aid stations for hydration – I am self-supported in every other way and this is how it should be. Aid stations are not your complete fuel source, they are your emergency station should you not be gelling with your personal fuel already packed on you.
Controlling body temperature
No race temperate is as you wish to order plus if you race in the Alpine region the temperatures can vary from top to bottom and from morning to afternoon – unpredictable is an understatement.
Wear moisture wicking and technically advanced clothing and this includes all major contact points such as shoes, undies and sports bras. Don’t’ skimp on these items especially as they are the closest to your body.
My gut choose my outfit for the day, no risks were taken and although I have a few outfits to choose from, all tried and tested the shoes and t-shirt in particular worn (both Salomon) were cooling and technically advanced; no chaffing for me this year.
In the words of Aretha Franklinl; “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect….R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.”
Show respect to the environment in which you are running, those you are running alongside, each and every volunteer and the race directors. Each has your best interests at heart and you need to believe that.
We selfishly run these races to better ourselves, to see how far we have come and its race directors in particular who give us that opportunity and for that we need to be thankful and respectful. It’s their selfless act (including ones of kindness) that allows us to be somewhat selfish for the duration of the race.
Control what you can control
Time allows us to experience and understand that we can only control what we can and to not worry about what we can’t.
- Body awareness
- Your mindset
- Other competitors
- Race decisions
Mind over matter
When it comes to race mindset, your thoughts don’t need to be relentlessly positive the whole time; like meditation it’s about brining your thoughts back to a neutral zone one full of forgiveness, acceptance and kindness. What you need to do during races is to prevent your mind from negatively spiralling; this is something you can control.
After listening to the Rich Roll Podcast with Chadd Wright, Navy Seal he uttered these words ‘Don’t give pain a voice’ and it’s this sentence that loops my mind continually in a race. Break down big goals into bite size chunks and while everyone is hurting as much as you are, DON’T give it a voice….you are stronger than those words.
Mantras and finishing lines
I just ran 52km. Change the narrative. I ran 52km. I am learning to challenge myself in this distance; it seems harder than a 100km race at times but whatever the distance, it’s never easy. As a racer, I am constantly challenging myself to be faster, stronger, better. I feel disappointed more often than I feel happy but that’s something I am working through.
My mantra for endurance races is ‘let the finish line come to you not the other way around.’ Be at peace with each and every moment, each step, each breath, each thought. Don’t fight the inner dialogue instead let it come and go and most of all, enjoy the rollercoaster of a ride both in races and in life, its nothing short of an exciting adventure.
- Footwear – Salomon Slab Sense 7
- Sock – Injinji toe socks
- Pack – Salomon Adv Skin 12 Set
- Nutrition – Spring Energy & Koda Nutrition Gels
- Poles – Leki Micro Trail Pro
To read more about The Archies event held in February, Mt Buller, Victorian Alpine region click here.