“He who fails to plan is planning to fail” – Winston Churchill
During the recently concluded Century Properties Ultramarathon last November 19, 2011, my mentor Edward and I had the privilege of supporting a friend and training partner attempting to finish the 100km + 4.5km cooldown.
Inside our cozy airconditioned support vehicle, we got to observe runners from a different perspective.
What factors can help a runner have a bigger chance of finishing his/her dream?
- Practice again
- Mental Toughness
- More Practice
- and most importantly a good support crew
The support crew must prepare all that is needed for the runners. This cannot be done in one day. The planning starts when the training starts. Various food, fluids, electolytes, etc will be tried and the resulting performance is logged. The best that will work is what goes into the “master plan”.
The support crew must make sure the runners are well rested during the days leading up to the race. The runners will not be able to think clearly on the week of the race because of the excitement and anticipation. He/she will have to be reminded on what to eat, how much to eat, how many hours to sleep, etc…
The support crew must try to study the mental state of the runners during the race and give the right encouragements at the right time. You can’t say “duol na ka…” (you’re almost there) when the runner has only covered 20km in a 100km race. This is an exaggeration but the point is to tell the runner the truth (maybe not the whole truth but something close to it 😀 ).
The support crew must never ask the runners negative questions like “kaya pa nimo?” (can you still make it?). Instead, why not say “Whatever happens, DO NOT STOP MOVING FORWARD.”? Barring any serious injury or health-threatening conditions, the runners must not be allowed to stop. Quitting is never an option.
The support crew must be ready to improvise during the race. Anything can happen on race day and the best laid plans may have to be scratched and a new strategy be formulated on the fly.
Having the runner’s family or loved ones waiting at the finish line or during the latter part of the race will make him/her forget about the blisters and the pain. All that will remain in the runner’s mind is to finish the race.
There are so many Do’s and Don’ts for a support crew and the experience has taught us a lot.
There were so many areas during the race that on hindsight we realized as a support crew we could have done better. But there were also times when we were really happy and proud that we did good.
Congratulations to all the participants, whatever the result of the race, your journey to the starting line of the race is what matters most and speaks of who you are and what you are really made of. 2 thumbs up! 🙂