Champion Australian marathoner, Robert de Castella, explains, “A lot of people don't realize that about 98 percent of the running I put in is anything but glamorous: 2 percent joyful participation, 98 percent dedication!"
It's a tough formula. Getting out in the forest in the biting cold and the flattening heat, and putting in kilometer after kilometer.” Being the best requires dedication.
Elite runner, Julian Spence, makes the same comment that even if you love something there will still be times when it is just plain hard work. Running over 150km per week is hard work. Even when, like Spence, you do your running through the beautiful forests surrounding Ballarat, when you love your running and have a business focused on running, it can still be hard work.
We find inspirational athletes motivating not just because of their performances but also because of their persistence during the hard times. The backstory behind these great performances reveals a dedication that stirs us. Spence has inspired many through the injuries he has overcome and the miles he has clocked up over many years.
He explains, “The main things in my training that I feel are very important are being consistent with high mileage, weekly long run over 2 hours and specificity for goal races in my workouts.”
Inspiration also comes, not from one great race, but consistent performances. Spence continues to produce national standard times. Last year at the Berlin marathon, he registered a Commonwealth Games qualifier of 2 hours 18 minutes.
He has also smashed the course record for the Bogong to Hotham ultra-trail run, and he has won the Great Ocean Road marathon a record three years in a row.
Balance in life
True inspiration comes from an entire life that reflects dedication. Some of the greatest athletes are those that not only perform on the field but have a maturity that demonstrates excellence in all of life and an understanding that there is more to life than just sport. “Easily my biggest challenge,” Spence explains, “is balancing running higher mileage with maintaining full time employment and keeping a happy home!
After a long day at work the last thing you can feel like is belting out a long set of marathon specific intervals. Luckily my partner Brianne is a gun in the kitchen and helps out in a big way when I’m off running.”
With a work career and degrees covering Indonesian, Nutrition as well as the Royal Australian Navy, Spence continues to inspire for what he does on and off the athletics track. He now runs a successful business,
The Running Company, with Brianne in Ballarat, Victoria. His next race is an attempt at a fourth title at the Great Ocean Road Marathon, Sunday 20th of May.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover1.html