I was given Michael Johnson's book "Slaying the dragon" to read by my coach when I first told him my plan to try and get a qualifying time for the commonwealth games.
After you have stared long enough into the dragon's eyes, there is nothing left to do but slay the dragon. For each of us, that dragon is the thing closest to the centre of our lives. It is our core, our ambition and our joy. For me, the perfect race. - Michael Johnson
The book is about how to identify your own dragon and how to apply winning techniques, small steps which when all joined up, get you to your goal.
I really enjoy reading about other runners, for example, I really enjoyed Paula Radcliffe's book - 'Paula. My story so far'. I really identified with what she was trying to do as I have ran marathons in the past, I'm not saying I am up to the standard of Paula but something clicked when I read her book. With Michael Johnson's book however it took me a bit more to understand it. My brain doesn't work in 200 metres and 400 metres, I work in 1/2 miles and miles. To run a 19 second 200 metres didn't sound like a big deal when I first started to read the book. Don't get me wrong, I know its fast but I couldn't visualise how fast.
Then I started running on the track as part of my training and that is when it clicked, 19 second for 200 metres is crazy fast! I'm not sure what my best, flat out 200 metres is just now but I know that the reps I am doing average out at about 33 seconds!
I've taken quite a bit from the book but I was also seeing a lot of things in the book that I thought, that's me!
I believe in my abilities, I believe I can get the time and I'm going to go for it. I will slay the dragon and its going to be fun doing it.
I've already started a weights program to give me more upper body and core strength and my pace is increasing every week due to the track work I am putting in. Sure I have some weeks (like this week) where I am tired and my legs aren't moving as fast but I ease the training back a bit, recharge and come back stronger.
Behind my desk at work I have a print out from the Scottish Athletics website which tells me the qualifying standard for the marathon distance. This is used for the days where I can't be bothered going out, I turn around, look at that bit of paper and head out for a lunch time run knowing that it will all be worth it.
I'm currently struggling to get out of my bed in the mornings though to get my double sessions in. It's meant to be just an easy 4 miles in the morning and then a long run at night but the last thing I want to do is go out for 4 miles, without breakfast, with heavy legs. I know I've got to get on it and soon. In some ways this blog post is my reminder to just zip up my man suit and get out there in the morning. 30 mins is all it takes and then I can grab a shower and have my breakfast. Just sometimes I wish I had a treadmill at the end of my bed!
Back to the book, it is a good read and there are some great quotes in there. At times I did think, this book isn't about trying to get the best out of the reader but just showing off at how great Johnson was, but then he always manages to bring it back on track and you get the point of why he went off on one.
He talks about training the mind as well as the body, believe in the task you have set yourself and you can do it. Don't avoid pressure or pretend that there is no pressure to perform, instead you should embrace the pressure and use it to fuel you, not destroy you.
Wise words - I'm currently feeling the pressure with my main goal of getting a 2:19 marathon under my belt, the reason? Reading more and more reports of people stepping up to the marathon distance, people who are already running faster than me on the shorter distances! I'm not giving up and I am going to continue pushing for the 2:19 or even better to try and get a place on the team but just now I'm an unknown on the Scottish Athletics radar, just another runner. These other guys are already known and are being watched.
I guess in some ways the pressure works the other way, they are known, and they are being watched but I can maybe sneak under the radar a bit, saying that, blogging about my goals isn't really going under the radar, more like standing on top of the highest building and saying 'Look at what I'm trying to do!'
I'm just hoping that Scottish Athletics don't make it a first come first served sort of basis for getting on the team. My aim is for Virgin London marathon in 2014 to get the 2:19 which could be too late! That I guess is outwith my control, what I can control is my training and that is going pretty well just now.