Keep your eyes and ears open

We’re into Marathon Month with the Witness Medihelp Maritzburg City Marathon, powered by Clover and Khayelihle less than four weeks away. By now you should be well into your training, for whatever your goal, and starting the final run in.
In the days when I still ran, this would be our long run Sunday. 16km if we were doing the half marathon and 32km if we’d entered the marathon. Time on your feet is what counts and there is plenty of time to recover before the 26th.
You’re going to be running in and around an amazingly historical city and with many amazing people. All with a similar goal – to do the best they can.
When you’re running or walking, in training or racing, try to absorb your surroundings. I know the front runners may disagree and focus on the job at hand and so should you, to a point. When you’re on your feet, you get the opportunity to see and hear so much more than driving or cycling.
You’ll hear pearls of wisdom from experienced runners and you’ll hear stuff that doesn’t fit your style or make up. Listen and decide which to use and which to lose. Remember, always, to only try new things in training or a race you’re using as training. Don’t wake up on Sunday 26th and eat, drink or wear something new.
You can’t listen with your ears full of music from an iPod . Wearing these, in any event, is actually against the rules, although many officials will ignore this unless you are a prize contender or your inability to hear your surroundings is compromising yours or anyone else’s safety.
“But I need music for rhythm”. So learn the words. Sing the songs in your head. If you have the voice for it, sing out loud. An old adage is “Running is a bit like sex; if you can’t talk while you’re doing it, you’re doing something wrong.” It also helps you control your breathing.
Another rhythmical aid is counting – especially on a hill. Count your steps between lamp posts or the length of the dotted line painted on the road – and the number of steps in the gap in between. Try to keep the same number of steps between each pair of poles. This’ll help you to keep your stride length and go further with minimal effort.
Have you thought about using your breathing? Listen to yourself. As you climb, suck in for two or three steps and breathe out for the same number. This applies especially when you take a walk. It stops you panting, which is a total waste of energy. None of the hills on your Marathon of Choice are long so you’ll be over the top before you know it.
Now for your eyes. They’re incredibly important. Use them to keep you from tripping or fouling other runners as you change lanes. Use them to look for the litter bins at the refreshment stations – and then use them – the bins that is. Use them to look around you and see the supporters. Look them in the eye, smile and thank. Similarly with marshals and officials. It’s amazing how quickly the miles tick by when you’re having and sharing a great time.
Look at the gardens you pass. Look at the buildings. Look at the views. Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing some of the interesting sites and places of historic significance on the Maritzburg City Marathon Facebook page.
Before you know it, you’ll be a tourist in your own city. Now that’s a good thing, so let’s all get positive and make your Maritzburg City Marathon experience the new beginning of a proud and powerful energy.
Remember – you don’t have to go far or fast – you just have to go!