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Have a little patience

by kirsty
Sunday 20th March 2016
We spend a lot of time focusing on the physical side of training for long races, as well as the marginal gains we can derive from nutrition, compression socks, pickle juice, kinesio tape, wearing one arm warmer etc. However, what struck me doing a long race recently is that patience is a massive part of it. Patience while you grind out those long miles in training, patience while you sit out weeks when you’re injured, patience while you build up and build up to a race, sticking to a training plan but not necessarily feeling much more fit week-on-week, and most of all patience while you slowly tick off those miles on race day. Driving 26/50/100 miles is quite a long way, can be quite boring and requires a fair bit of concentration. Running that far? Well, I think it’s fair to say you have to be pretty patient. 
At least when you’re running a reasonably flat race you can estimate how long it’s going to take you. You can calculate it in your head - ‘even if I have to walk I’ll still cover 4 miles each hour’. When you’re doing long races that involve big hills it can play havoc with your maths and your mind. There might be ‘only 10k to go’, so you might reasonably think you’ll be done in about an hour, but when those 8 of those kms are climbing up a big hill that might be nearer 3 hours. The end can seem impossibly far away and you need to build up a bit of mental resilience to not let that sort of thing break you/make you throw your toys out of the pram if they’ve run out of your favourite biscuits at the next aid station. 
So, with this in mind I’d like to propose some unorthodox training methods for building up your patience muscle ahead of your next long run:
1. Travel anywhere by road or train in the UK during rush hour. Sitting for long periods on a motorway, standing on a platform waiting for an announcement about leaves/frozen points/faulty something - these are good ways of building up patience and mental resilience. Do this 5 days a week and you’re probably ready for anything. 
2. Go to an accident and emergency department (but only if you or a loved one really needs to). While you sit there for 4 hours, watching scallywags who come in with a cold, a sore finger or some sort of alcohol-related injury, wasting the NHS’s scarce resources, you can develop the all-important skill of filling your mind with nice things while you are in pain and having to wait for a very long time with only a 9 year old copy of People’s Friend magazine to keep you occupied. This will serve you very well in marathon distance and beyond.
3. Spend time with somebody else’s small children. Self-explanatory. 
4. Set aside a day and say to your partner ‘you know that box-set of Game of Thrones/Great Train Journeys/Walking Dead/Friends that you always want to watch, but I hate? Let’s do it’. 12 hours of your life you’ll never get back but a great work-out for your patience muscle.
5. To really simulate a long race experience you’ll need to work in a lot of discomfort and some slight mental torture. Going on a long flight? This is a good start. To make it even better request that you be seated in front of a tantruming toddler with kicky feet. Now you’re really ready to run a long race.
So next time you find yourself in a long queue, a traffic jam or wading through spreadsheets or invoices at work, try to tell yourself that it’s great mental training for long races. 20 miles to go? This is nothing compared to my last marathon - Game of Thrones. 

About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 


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