In this 2nd episode of Podcasts It's a long road we'll talk about how I approached it run and the races at the beginning of my racing career and the development I managed to have. How I went from being a simple runner with the right approach and a lot of sweat to running my first Marathon and several other longer distance races. Various difficulties I have faced in recent years have not brought me down, on the contrary they have made me stronger and I have now set new goals for the future.
Hello my friends
Its 2nd episode It's a long road and where we left off last time is when I started looking a little more with what training to do, how long it should be and various other things, so I started looking on the internet and trying to adapt different programs I found.
At that time I remember I was suffering from a pain in my knee and after a visit I made to an orthopedist he initially recommended rest, running on soft terrain and if nothing is done, an operation may be needed. That's what he says the x-ray showed. I was very saddened by this opinion, but I did not give up and so I asked for her help Marianna who then made me my first training and strength program together. The Marianna that she is professional trainer in the athletics academies of a large group of Thessaloniki, I hope to have her around in one of the next episodes and with her experience to develop us in more detail various things that concern all of us runners.
So my first program was given to me by a professional in the field and I followed it to the letter. It is not to put something in my mind. It was a combination of training on the athletic field and on the soccer field with the aim of keeping the stress on my legs as low as possible.
I remember at that time I told Marianna full of confidence that I intended to run somewhere nearby a Marathon and I remember even better that he advises me "George it's no small thing to run a marathon. You're not ready yet and you need months of relevant preparation." Due to my impulsive nature, I didn't pay much attention, or rather I thought she was exaggerating, and I confess that in later time I realized how wise her words were.
Later I found myself due to work abroad and for a long time I stopped training completely and put it down to weights and the gym. Not with special results, just to pass the time, but also because due to winter the only way to run was on a treadmill, which at the time I was unbearably bored.
At some point after 6 months I came back to Greece and slowly started running again with a compass, always the trainings of my friend Marianna and a little later some other programs that I liked from the internet. The improvement was obvious and of course it was always my dream to be able to someday run some marathon. I think this is a big goal of most people who are involved in running. When will they run a marathon!
This feeling became even stronger for me on April 2, 2017. It was the 10 km and the Alexander the Great marathon from Pella to Thessaloniki. I had previously run 10km with a time of 55:11 and then I went to buy cod with garlic in one of the famous shops of the city on the beach. While I was waiting to receive my order I sat outside the store and watched everyone who was slowly finishing from the Marathon. They had about a kilometer to go to the finish line and the fatigue and anxiety was evident on their faces. "Wow" I said to someone next to me. "Look at them, man! Well done for them! Think they run about 40km straight. Unbelievable!!” Among all those who were slowly finishing there were some obviously athletic guys, others a bit chubbier, some others overweight and on the verge of a heart attack, but with a common denominator that all of them would soon finish. "How lucky" I said to myself. But how strong!! Since they can do it, I will too. By next year I will be stubborn and run my first marathon. Yes I will do so I told myself and from that very day I started collecting information on the internet.
Many articles, many tips, but the common denominator of all is respect for the fight. And what do I mean? All well and good but what are the criteria I set for myself? What are my goals? Do I just want to run ONE marathon or do I want to be a marathoner? Because if I want to stay in the space then other dilemmas will surely come later, like do I just want to finish or do some specific time? There is a big difference in philosophy in every question. If you just want to run a marathon regardless of whether you do good or bad to yourself, regardless of whether you are a certain age, lame crooked and with a lot of will and patience you might succeed. A little running, a little walking. 5 hours will that be? Above; There is a serious chance that you will succeed.
But apart from moral satisfaction you are not going to gain anything else. Quite the opposite. You will come out of all this crippled and doing great harm to your body and your health. Many of these charges can be found in front of you and will come to you later. From the little experience I had up to that point in racing, as well as everything I had read, I drew my final conclusions, set my goals and asked for help.
I do not I wanted simply to run a marathon and then settle for other smaller matches. I didn't just want to have fun and cover my personal interests. I wanted to become marathon runner. I wanted to do it and stay there and why not go even further.
I was not delusional or had a high opinion of myself. Simply respecting my age, my body, my family, but also the race itself, I wanted to study the subject, as we say in the square. And to learn something you have to pay. This is my view on almost everything in life. To learn you have to pay. Turn to experts who will guide you and help you. To people who know what they are doing and will take care of you.
You mean that the rest of the percentage you need to succeed rests solely on your own strength. In your own effort, in your own patience and perseverance. Purely and only in your own thoughts and in your own struggle. Up to a point you need guidance. But then everything is in your hands. How much you want it. How hard you will work. What sacrifices are you willing to make and more.
I had a gap again, after I spent some time due to work abroad, but at the first opportunity and with similar recommendations I turned to the specialist and to this day he is my coach, Vassilis Krommidas.
I had many questions, especially at the beginning, many whys, but I always got the right answers from my coach and so I progressed slowly but steadily. I didn't care anymore. The 4 and 5 training sessions per week are all heart rate based. When I started with Vassilis my aerobic zone was very low and as a result I ran very slowly as boring. Think my Aerobic was between 130 and 147 pulses.
At some point I did ergometrics to see where I am and to set the goals with even better data. In general, an ergometric is not expensive and worth doing, to see exactly what condition you are in and to be able to personalize the training even better for even better results, and for long-distance runners it helps to evaluate aerobic capacity. So through this process we can more accurately see the needs and specificities of each athlete by creating the training zones, either based on pulses or based on speed. However, ergometrics is a big chapter that I intend to have the experts talk about in a future episode.
Consider that a while ago when I did a new ergometer my aerobic zone is now set between 135 and 155 pulses. A big difference compared to how I started with a natural consequence, of course, of running faster now in the same aerobic zone.
As I said above, my training sessions are now 4 to 5 a week, different each time and depending on the goals I have set. In general, we can say that long runs help with endurance and the way the body metabolizes energy, interval runs with speed and oxidation tolerance, and uphill runs with strength. I will go into more detail in one of the next episodes and even better I will try to have some experts and professionals in the field as guests who surely have a lot more to tell us.
The goal of training is to improve speed through endurance, the complex is the way through the periodicity of training through each phase that follows so that on the specific day of the race you are in the best possible condition. And that optimal performance window is only a couple of weeks at most!
So each training in a different phase works differently, for example the same training with a difference in rest you achieve different results.
The question that should concern you is to make your decisions about what exactly you want. Do you want longevity in your racing career or just make a dream come true and then give up?
So somewhere in the middle of 2019, a running magazine fell into my hands, to which I later became a subscriber, where it referred to the 10 Greeks who managed to run the 6 World Marathon Majors. The marathons of Berlin, London, New York, Chicago, Boston and Tokyo have all joined together and now under the auspices of ABBOT they are a pole of attraction for thousands of runners all over the world. In addition to the 6 medals of each marathon, in your last race you are awarded in a special ceremony another one for your feat, the best of all, the one that includes all 6 medals together, the one that puts you on the list of Six Star Finishers. It is worth noting that there is no specific order that someone must finish, nor is there a time, since each person can compete in a different phase of their life, even with many years between competitions. So far 6 star finishers they have become over 6,500 sportsmen and women worldwide, a number which is going to rise when humanity gets rid of the pandemic.
So this is my new one too target and I hope that in 2022 with the beginning of 23 I will also be able to complete them. And when that is done, to be able to publish my book as well, which will basically be about my whole journey, the experiences I'm going to have and the trips I hope to make.
Of course, everything is not easy and rosy, since the most difficult part is that due to the large participation and the many applications in these marathons, you have to meet some specific competition criteria. Times that of course I don't catch them, but still it's not certain, since there's a lottery and if you're lucky then they accept you. If you are elite athlete which of course does not apply to me. Another way is by making a donation of a few thousand dollars to specific charities and the last way is through some travel agency that is specific and the only ones that have some participation tickets.
I searched a lot I can say and I ended up in a travel agency in Greece and since then with the owner George Karagiannis we have also become very good friends, who has been an elite long-distance athlete for a long time and with many international awards. In the future in some of my episodes he will be one of my guests and I am sure we have a lot to talk about and learn even more from his great multi-layered experience in the field.
So I arranged with George and he got me tickets for the first two races that I set as a goal. In September 2020 in Berlin and in November of the same year in New York.
But I calculated without the hotelier, since it is 2020 due to its great pandemic COVID-19 which we live to this day, proved to be disastrous for everyone and naturally affected all the sporting events of that year around the world.
Wait, I said one year, let's be strong and we start 2021 even stronger. In 2020, everything happened that we could never have imagined, and the effect that the emergence of this pandemic had on the entire spectrum of our lives was unreal. Especially during the quarantine period where our normality was greatly disrupted. Our lives have changed a lot, but as I always say everything happens for a reason and new opportunities and data always rise from the ashes, through the blur and uncertainty.
For some, it would not be an exaggeration to say that this whole situation of the pandemic was also a gift, and it always has to do with what mood and how some people see things and situations. Don't get me wrong, because I understand very well all the bad and wrong that this pandemic has brought to the whole world and especially to some sectors of workers, but for some others, myself included, I can say that in a sense it has been good for me. I found the opportunity to enjoy my home and my children more, I made the decision to start writing a book, I found time to read dozens more and deal with many other interesting things. In fact, one of the greatest benefits that the pandemic did was to the planet itself, since it was observed that the atmosphere, seas, lakes and rivers were cleaned by restricting people's movements.
For some others, of course, it may have worked even better. Some started walking to get a break, some others found the opportunity to start the sport and especially its simplest form which is running. Those who complained that they had no time for their children and families now did. Some may have made more money, found new opportunities, and engaged in new, more profitable fields. Some redefined their relationships. They got rid of whatever toxic was bothering them, or they got closer to some others. There is always the possibility of something good coming out of every situation and that is where we should focus our minds. To the good we will get every time we do something. When we intelligently manage some situations, even difficult ones, there is always something that we will benefit from even a little.
And I'm saying this because COVID-19 hit me hard, especially at the beginning. Of course I was in a hurry to stick it. Him April '20 on my birthday the 23rd i was diagnosed positive. I was in excellent physical condition, with no other illnesses or medication, but that didn't stop the virus from taking a toll on me, turning it into pneumonia and very few days later putting me in the hospital.
I was hospitalized for 12 days, almost all on oxygen and alone in a room. I never lost my spirit, even though the virus knocked me down and I couldn't even go to the toilet, let alone talk on the phone.
The first few days after discharge I felt tired, but after about 4 days I slowly started walking, a little later light running and then gym and strength training and it didn't take long to find my fitness. Always, of course, in consultation with my coach who had a specific rehabilitation program for me. I was discharged on 05 May 20 and on 01 August, 3 months later I dared and took the risk, since I had insufficient preparation, to run my second ultra-marathon, Thespies-Thermopyles 102km.
And while I was getting ready to start preparing strongly again and in 2021 to run my first two of the 6 Marathons I had intended to run, another setback came to me.
Good Friday, April 30, 21 a car hit me while I was driving my motorbike.
THE conflict it was not severe, since my speed was relatively low, but it was capable of knocking me down and sustaining a crushing fracture of the upper rostrum of my right hand.
The pain was unbearable and surgery the next day on Holy Saturday. They finally put in 4 screws and I was discharged the next day, Easter Sunday. I spent the second Easter in a row at the hospital. If you're lucky, read where they say...
The following days were also the most difficult in my life. I experienced unprecedented things, since I could not use my right hand and in general with all this volume of the splint everything was very different. From everyday life, where simple and easy things immediately became difficult and complex, to my sleep where it was only possible for a few hours and with force, since the discomfort from the pain and the brace was intense.
When you stop running then you realize how much you miss him. Not running for a day or two is reasonable in the context of rest, but not running for a longer period of time is something that cannot be tolerated. Despite the brace I followed a six day program of alternating walking and indoor cycling. My long runs had now been replaced by 3-hour mountain walks. Walking and cycling were now for me a way to escape from everyday life, sitting, lethargy and in general from this whole situation after the traffic accident.
The road is now for her total restoration it was difficult and long. Once I finished the 4th week I started easy physiotherapy, after 8 weeks I returned to work, and after 2 months I did my first run again which was 30 minutes long and at a very leisurely pace.
Physiotherapy continued for a longer period of time and later the program included exercises with heavy weights and stress balls to strengthen my arm and in mid-August now with the consent of a doctor I entered the gym timidly again to start strengthening both the whole body and and my hand.
So 3 months later and again with insufficient preparation I managed to run my first two Marathons from the series of these 6, and more specifically at September 26, 21 in Berlin and a few days later on October 10 in Chicago. Unforgettable experiences, unique feelings that for each Marathon I will dedicate a Podcast episode to be able to convey to you as much as I can all this image of running in such large events.
That's it for today, Thank you so much for listening!
Until next time, Be well, be healthy and always do what we love and what makes us feel good.