This week is about mental preparations for my marathon.


I’ve been thinking about some of my favourite running moments and I came up with something else to add to my “28 moments” list. (To view the whole list, select “28 moments” on the category search function on the top left.)

THE SPRINT

At my gym, not every trainer is equal. They have regular trainers and they have what I like to call supertrainers. The supertrainers don’t get the clients who are just starting out or who just want to lose some weight. They get the athletes, or people who are in great physical shape. There are two supertrainers notorious for pushing their clients to the max: some Russian guy (rumour around the gym is that he is guaranteed to make you cry on your first session), and my own trainer.

While the regular trainers stick to the machines and an exclusive trainer-only room, it is actually part of a supertrainer’s job to use the entire gym floor. If they hide their clients away in the trainer room, or among the machines, they get in trouble with management. Management wants the clients of the supertrainers to be seen. It’s good for business.

While a regular trainer might use a treadmill, as the client of a supertrainer I must instead sprint across the wide aisle right in front of all the treadmills. Sometimes I do my entire workout across this central aisle – lugging weights and pulling ropes and dragging or pulling myself across in difficult ways while everyone on the treadmills watches me work.

When the gym does tours for new members, my supertrainer and I are supposed to make the gym look good. I’m supposed to look awesome sprinting past anyone considering a membership, making them wish they could do what I do and inspiring them to immediately hand over their credit cards.

At first this was strange for me. But I know that my trainer pushes me much harder than a regular trainer would, and I’ve gotten used to people staring. It helps me work harder.

The gym tries to work it out so that there are rarely two supertrainers working simultaneously (only one awesomely fit and very attractive person dominates the floor at a time), but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes there are two.

Two weeks ago on a Monday this was the case. That was also the day that my supertrainer put me through hell and back in the hardest workout of my life. It was so difficult that the next time I ran 30+ kilometers, it felt easy. And when my runs do get hard, I often think back to this workout and feel thankful that at least I’m not doing THAT again!

My trainer had me doing intervals, and my breaks were severely limited. Even my water was limited (in an effort to teach me to be properly hydrated beforehand). And we were using the wide central aisle.

My hellish routine involved doing some sort of difficult exercise, and then immediately sprinting across the aisle from one end of the gym and back, as fast as possible. Then repeating the first exercise. After that it was another exercise, and another sprint, exercise, sprint, etc.

Because it was immediate and non-stop and because it was more focused on legs, my leg muscles were highly confused. Every time I did that sprint, I felt like my legs were just seconds away from collapsing. They felt shaky and unstable and they were starting to make me moody.

For the record, we were using the aisle first when the second supertrainer came over with her client – some guy who is at the gym all the time with calves the size of my head. She made him do something similar, but alternating so that we were never both sprinting at the same time.

He was still in my way though. As I was sprinting, I would have to maneuver around him as he completed his exercise. It was an additional obstacle to watch out for when I could barely concentrate on just running. It was annoying.

As I was nearing the end of my workout, we synched up. And we started to sprint at around the same time. The aisle felt tighter than ever and I didn’t like it. As the client of a supertrainer, I was used to having a lot of space to myself. Plus I was already slightly pissed at my sadistic trainer and the torturous inventions she was calling exercises.

Near the end I was basically crawling, and as I took off for one of my final sprints, I heard my trainer yelling, “Hurry up! Don’t let him beat you!!” I turned to see Mr. Calves sprinting right beside me, taking up my aisle. What an asshole.

My legs were burning and I could barely think straight, but I sped up. So did he. We quickly glanced at each other… and just like that it was ON. To our trainers who were still yelling from the far end of the gym, it must have looked like an engine just kicked in. We simultaneously took off in the fastest sprint we could possibly run.

My rival was just a little bit taller than me, definitely more muscular, and his legs were more developed. I was thinner though, with more or a runner’s body, and I had a stronger core. We both crashed into the far end of the gym wall at exactly the same time. Then turned.

At this point our trainers figured out what had happened, and they were each cheering their own clients, screaming across the gym at the top of their lungs. All the less-fit people on the treadmills turned to watch the drama unfold.

For several seconds that felt like minutes, we were head to head. Who did this guy think he was?? At the very end of the hall there was a glass wall blocking off the room where the spinning class is usually held. It wasn’t something we could crash into without serious repercussions. I have never run so fast towards a glass wall in my life, and it was starting to look like we would go right through it. But at the moment I was only worried about strides.

His stride was longer than mine, so I suddenly realized that my only hope was to move faster. I took a quick gasp of air and pumped my arms harder. My legs – in a way that I will never fully understand – miraculously followed.

I pulled ahead of him in the last few seconds. Then, unable to stop, I was forced to do a quick turn and immediately crashed face first into an empty treadmill. I saw my trainer cheering but I didn’t really hear anything she said as I collapsed on the floor, nearly dead.

I did, however, manage to hear my competitor’s first words to his disappointed supertrainer who just saw him get his ass kicked by a girl. He was bitching about some pain in his calves.