Watching all the events at the Gold Coast marathon last week, was a real eye opener for me. Usually I am on the other side of the fence, doing the running and the suffering! Watching is so different, it is fun, especially if you know lots of people in the race (in my case nearly 60!), but it is also interesting to see how all the runners are cope with their half marathon or marathon finish.
I was 300meters from the finish line so the runners were coming to the end of their race and in a lot of cases to 300metres from their goal, to either run a marathon or half marathon or to get a PB. In Lazy Runners case it was the culmination for 20 weeks of training which involved running hundreds of kms, so it is a big moment...nearly there, just a round the corner and through the finish barrier and then you can celebrate.
So it did amaze me how the runners approached that last 300, some were struggling, hobbling, walking and in some cases nearly crawling, and needed the help of the marshals to keep them upright. Other were laughing, waving, and looking for family and friends. Some had had an incredible focus in their faces, and were striding out, making a final dive for the finish line. It was the latter that I admired and thought, yes they have got it right.
I always say you think back on an event you have run you always remember the last km of a race, if it’s good, you will have fond memories if it’s bad, no matter what happened during the race you will always remember that horrible finish. So my theory is make it good.
How do I do that? You ask…train to finish
If you have run that distance before there is not reason for you to worry about finishing, you can do it, so why not do it well.
There are many positives that come from finishing well,
It helps you mentally-you feel proud that you can still run strong even though you may feel pain in your body, a strong mind can work for you not just in running but in all things you do in your life
It gives you confidence-that all the training you have done and the hard work you put in really works
It gives you enjoyment- it makes you feel good about your running and like running, and want to continue and set new goals for yourself
It gives you a better race time- even if you are not running the time you want, it is amazing how much a Big Finish will take seconds off your time, so go for broke
It makes you fitter- if you can surge near the end of long races it means you have trained your body to lift; it shows you have good fitness, especially cardio fitness
It makes you look better! -We all know how bad race photos can be, but all the photos I have had taken of me finishing strong, are the ones I’m proud to display, as I look ok and not BND (bloody near dead)
If you haven’t run the distance before, it is a little scarier… as the fear of the unknown can chip away at you when you a re running…but the finish is something else
In your training you need to train to finish, so the last 500-300 meters can be trained for, regardless of you never running 21 or 42km before, you can still train for that last bit…but like all things in running...it just doesn’t happen, you have to make it happen.
Try these things to help you achieve your Big Finish
Every run you do make your own Big Finish, doesn’t matter if you are running by yourself, or chatting away with a friend or in a race, have the same focus each time you go out…you will finish strong
*Pick the landmark you are going to finish strong from (approx 300-500mters from home) and lift…up to you how you do it, lift a notch, just 10%, that feels ok lift another notch and other 10%, that feels ok, last 100mters sprint- every runner can sprint for 100metres…remembering the definition of sprint is running as fast as your legs can run, if you are doing that you are sprinting; Or just lift at the 500meter mark, just a notch and maintain that to the finish line; or if you are confident , sprint to the finish line
*If you are with a running buddy or running with LR group, stop talking! Big finishes need focus, and you can do that when you are gossiping away. Race your buddy home, talk it up big before you get to your Big Finish mark….tell your buddy you are going to kick their butt, make it competitive, it will help you and your buddy
*Prepare for your big finish- so you see the Big Finish landmark, start psyching yourself up, get rid of your dead air (three long breaths out) then get some good fresh air in, plan how you are going to do it, talk yourself up to it
*Change your whole posture and outlook for your Big Finish
Look ahead with steely determination to your finish line
Use your arms, turn them into sprinters arms, it will help
Turn your legs over faster
*Smile- even if it’s a fake smile, your body will respond to a smile
*Chase someone- Ok you have been out there just cruising along and you get to your big finish, there are a few runners ahead of you, this is your chance, you are going to catch them and beat them...they will have no idea what you are doing, but boy it will make you feel good if you smash them!
*Make up a fantasy finish (I mean a running fantasy!)- At the end of your run is a finishing ribbon, Channel 7 are there with a camera crew, all your family and friends are there cheering you on, and you have 500metres to go to win your race…how do you want to look to all your adoring fans and the media?
Use whatever it takes….
Trouble Shooting the Big Finish-
You don’t have to be running faster, just think you are!
I have been in marathons and I have seen the 42km sign and I know there is only 200metres to go…so I start to lift, I run tall, I focus on the finish line…I’m sure I never ran one second faster and the legs were still shuffling, but in my mind I was sprinting…that is Ok, as long as you change something about the way you are running, your mind is telling your body, we are OK we are going to finish this thing, the body likes to be told everything is Ok or it will just not perform for you.
You feel sick- Great, there will be a gutter at the end or a bush to throw up in, better at the end then in the middle. Lorraine Moller (New Zealand’s greatest female marathon runner), in most of her winning marathons, would cross the finish line, and the reporters would run out for an interview and she would barf all over their shoes, she got such a reputation that they all knew to stand back and interview her from a distance when she won…but that didn’t stop her finishing strong, she just knew it would be over soon and it didn’t matter what happened after she won
(on saying this though, if you feel sick and cant finish, take it back a notch, you probably went up too many notches!)
Stopping after the finish- always not good to stop dead after a Big Finish or sit or God Forbid lie down, keep moving, slow down to a jog and go another few hundred meters past the finish line. Or just keep walking...its called active recovery. It brings your heart rate back down slowly and keeps the blood moving through your muscles. Active recovery is known to really help muscle fatigue and soreness that can set in after a hard workout. Be like the sprinters you see on TV, they always keep running after the finish, and you could even do a victory lap if you like!
Lazy Runner Big Finish-
I have decided to incorporate the Big Finish into all Lazy Runners Ho Hum Run, I don’t care if you are not training for a race at the moment, or you are just a beginner, or you just like to run in your comfort zone, I want all LRs to finish every Ho Hum Run differently. It could mean just lifting a notch, beating your running buddy, chasing another runner, it could mean changing your posture and running tall and proud or could mean just smiling, however you decide to approach it, make it a Big Finish
I will either have a landmark for you to start your Big Finish or a chalk mark, it could be a different distance Big Finish each time...all you need to do is change when you get to it!
For More Great Tips on Running ....Look Here