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Author: Patrick Durante

7 Critical Things I Tell Myself Before A 24-Hour Endurance Event.

These are 7 of the things that start going through my mind the week before an event. You are trying to align your mind with what your body is about to do. Mental prep is vital to success, so self-talk leading up to a race is critical.

1) You get what you get and you don’t get upset.

Training is done, there’s nothing more to do.  You will wish you had more time.  I rarely get to the starting line feeling 100%, more like 75-90%. You rarely perform the perfect taper or get great sleep the week of the event.  Everyone has a life outside of running, unless you’re a pro, that will put additional demands on you.   If you can get to the starting line be grateful. 

2) Today Will Not Be Perfect

The event will not be perfect.   Know that things will go sideways and I hope they do!  Odds are I will fall, run out of water, get injured, and be extremely tired.  The list goes on and on, expectations should be low then I will be pleasantly surprised if it goes well. Prepare your mind for adversity!

3) Keep Your Mind Busy

Take some photos, talk to strangers, or plan your aid station meal. From the book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” keeping busy eliminates suffering and pain. We are single-track-minded, and we really only do one thing at a time.  Keeping your brain busy with something helps distract from the pain. It can’t focus on a task AND pain, so make sure you get busy with some tasks to distract from the pain.

4) Insecurities Come and Go 

Get ready for the highest highs and lowest lows.  The event will have times you feel like you are on top of the world, then wish someone would put you out of your misery.  It will bounce between these two extremes, realize they pass just like a fast-moving storm, and you just need to acknowledge it and keep moving!

5) Fix Minor Issues Early

Be sensitive to irritation. If something is annoying you in the slightest way, stop and take care of it.  Tell your crew to get whatever you need to fix it, ice or lube if there’s a hot spot.  You can’t put things off. Small problems balloon into major issues the longer the event. Your mind will keep nagging you if you don’t, until is screaming to stop.

6) Always Be Eating (A-B-E). 

Constantly fuel your body and brain. Unlike training, it’s something I remind myself in a race. Set a timer for every 30 minutes and keep eating or drinking your calories. You should also change what you are eating as to not get sick of it.  The stomach is slow to digest and you are going to be doing this for a long time.  ALWAYS BE EATING! You think this is simple to do, but it is not. The brain gets lazy with remembering when to eat, and the stomach stops craving food.   

7) Smile 

Our brains are so dumb that if you smile it will ease suffering. If you can find joy or fun in what you are trying to accomplish it will make it easier.  Happiness is contagious, be a source of fun and joy to those around you.  I carry a picture of my family to remember why I am doing this and what is most important.

That’s it. These 7 tricks help me get through my events. Just enjoy it because it’s over before you know it. If you have any mental tricks I would love to hear them in the comments below!

-Patrick Durante

20 Years Of Broad Street – America’s Largest 10 Miler 

Broad Street was my first jump in distance.  The transition from 5K to 10M, then half marathon, marathon, and the rest was history.  It was a gateway from the casual 5K/10K to a “Can I even finish?” distance I took on 20 years ago.

What went right?

I had a blast!  I didn’t have any goals for this race.  I ran to the best of my ability for that given day and course. I had just raced the Philadelphia Trail Marathon the week prior and felt the effects.  I would never miss one of these limited events with my family as we are near the “tail end”.  The doorway is beginning to open with my children. Both my son(7) and daughter(10) are signed up for their first 5K.  They are about to embark on their running journey.  In the podcast from Derek Sivers, I was really moved by this one section where he talks about the importance of raising his son right:

If you do this right, it passes on for many generations —A kid that’s raised really well can pass on that generosity of spirit, you know?  Somebody that’s raised ignored might pass on that scarcity of spirit, you know?  

Derek Sivers – Tim Ferriss Podcast

My parents have been great role models for me, and I hope to pass on the lessons they’ve taught me to my own children. They’ve shown me the importance of perseverance and hard work, no matter what challenges may arise. These are valuable lessons that can help shape the character of future generations.

What went wrong?

I had a marathon the week before that I cared more about than this race.  I gave 100% effort in that race, and this got about 80% effort.  I mostly recovered but knew that it would limit my output. I was tight in my hips and could still feel it, but I still felt nearly recovered. It must have been close to 10 years since I last raced back-to-back weekends.

What I would have done differently?

The best race will be when you don’t care about the outcome.  Future me will try harder to remove myself from outcomes.  I know I have the best performance when I don’t care about time. It’s not like I didn’t try, but I just know my times will fade as the years add up.  I won’t break records as I get older.  I am fine with that.  What I can do is make better videos, live in the moment, inspire my children, and motivate them in their fitness adventures.  The finish time could be 1 hour or 2 hours, how fast you get down broad street really doesn’t matter, or make you any more interesting of a person.  The race is set up to reward those in the front to start first, but that’s it.  I don’t want things to go faster, I just want to experience them deeper, or differently. Maybe I should start with the pink coral? 🙂

The more time goes on the more I detach myself from outcomes and connect myself with those I can share the experience with.  If you focus on outcome you could miss out on the sights and sounds of the race.  If you watch the video I shot I cared more about the feel of the race vs time. Honestly, I don’t think I couldn’t have gone any faster anyway.     

I look back on 20 years of racing with fond members of my family, pre-race dinners, subway rides, and bib pick-ups.  I won’t boil down a race to seconds on a clock when there is history and emotion that runs down Broad Street.  Mile 8 is my street, Ritner, the street I grew up on, and 2 miles from the finish.  I hope I have 40 more finishes, a few more with my family, and my children.  To some, it’s just another race, but to me, it was that spark that lead to a lifetime of adventure.  

Here was my PoV video from the race. My camera died right at the end…

Philadelphia Trail Marathon Race Report

  • What went right?
    • I didn’t go with a vest as this was a “shorter” race for me.  I kept my kit light with only 1 waist bottle holder.
    • My pace was very dialed in.  For this distance and vert, I know I can handle 8:30 – 9:00 pace depending on the weather.  I had just done a race that went well last year with this exact same setup and kit so I know it was tested. 
    • I know every section of the course.  I have run every trail and every turn of this course multiple times.  Nothing beats having the home-court advantage.  This doesn’t normally happen for my races as I like to do different races every year.  I got the best sleep ever because I felt like it was just going to be a training run.  Maybe it’s worth it to visit a course beforehand to get that peace of mind?
    • Made sure to power hike almost every climb in the beginning to save my energy.  I saved it for where it counts, on the downhills and flat sections.  (really not many of those)
PHOTO CREDIT:  Doug Rafalski
This is my light weight 50K kit.
  • What went wrong?
    • I pushed the limits of dehydration.  I really should have made sure to drink on a schedule versus just doing it at the aid stations.  I wasn’t taking enough liquids and it was warming up at 11 AM.
    • Too fast of a start.  This wasn’t my choice, the trail narrowed so you had to jump out ahead to avoid the traffic jam.  The first mile clocked in at 6 minutes and I immediately pulled back.  I made sure to run my own race and that is critical in every ultra.
  • What would I do differently?
    • I got lazy with my eating and drinking and it happens almost every race unless I set a timer to go off on my watch every 30 minutes.  I just got to remember to do that BEFORE the race start.  That’s the biggest thing that can cause issues later in a race because once you are behind with nutrition, its a losing battle.  
    • I’m going to practice the crap out of this course.  If this race happens again next year I now have the GPX and course mapped out.  I’m gonna run this course once a week.  They had no GPX file before the race.
    • Light vs heavy shoe.  I swapped to a light vs heavy shoe and it was the right call.  This course drains well from heavy rain and wasn’t muddy.   I didn’t need crazy tread shoes.

Final Thoughts

Me as a kid at the Wiss wearing a bart simpson T-shirt.  This section was on the course.

The Wissahickon has been a place that I’ve been going to since I was young. The fact they put together a marathon here was incredible and it was a perfect course.  I was so grateful to be out there and racing.  This is my home turf and basically where I grew up.  This is by far the best event Uber Endurance put together.  I can see myself coming back every year to run this course.  It meant so much to me over the years and this was a near-perfect way to experience it. This park has helped me grow into the person I am today.  How can a park help you grow?  It can challenge you and introduce you to new people.  It can be a place for your kids to play and explore.  

The Japanese practice “Forest Bathing”, or shinrin-yoku as they call it. Spending time in nature is good for both physical and mental well-being. It is proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity, as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness. As somebody who grew up in the city coming out to the Wissahickon as a kid always felt better. I never knew why, but after reading about shinrin-yoku I understand.

So if you had to choose between the Philly Marathon or the Philly “TRAIL” Marathon, that’s a pretty easy choice! 😉