The SMILE Project
I have informally launched The SMILE Team about a year ago where it’s main objective is to provide a support station in major marathons organized within the Klang Valley. We have a group of willing volunteers that work for no money but out of passion for the running community. And I must say so far we have been very selective on marathon races and have been successfully getting the job done.
And now the time had come for me to roll out another initiative out of the SMILE branding. This time it’s the SMILE Project. The main objective is to offer assistance to those who are in need of a guided program to run their very first marathon. In short a program for wannabes marathoner. In fact I have been doing this for a while, drawing out training programs for those who need a reference/guidelines and what they need to do that will lead them to successfully running and finishing their very virgin marathon. Just that after giving them the program, there is no close follow-up and check on the progress on of their training.
For the SMILE Project, it will be a dedicated 19 weeks program where there will be a Marathon Mentor (the person proving the guidance and assistance) and the Marathon Cadet (in short we will call them Cadet, the person that will be following the program closely). This will be a one-to-one outfit and a target goal to finish the first marathon will be set (based on the cadet’s 10k and 21k timing). The Mentor will constantly check on the progress of the Cadet, and be his/her personal pacer on race day. Both Mentor and Cadet may run together during the trainings or the Cadet can train on his/her own time schedule. Each of them have to be discipline to follow through the goals and targets set in the very beginning before the plan get kick-off.
As the training progresses, the Mentor will make assessment on the Cadet and start to analyze whether all the weekly and monthly plans are met and achieved. This will give a good indicator of whether the end goals were set too high or too low, and can be change according to the Cadet’s performance during the training.
It is best for the Mentor to run with the Cadet during the weekend LSD, especially for the last 6 LSDs before race day. With this in the place, it will give the Mentor a good assessment of the Cadet on whether he/she is on target and be able to finish their virgin marathon on the target finishing time. During this critical period, if there is a need to lower or improve the target marathon finishing time we can still make adjustment to it. By this time, the Mentor will have charted out the entire marathon pace strategy for the Cadet to study and follow. Some changes can be made to suit the comfort level of the Cadet but the end goal of finishing the race will not be change.
Come race day, it is extremely important for the Mentor to lead and assume the role as the personal marathon pacer for the Cadet. Forget about those official marathon pacers as their pace strategy may not be the same. On race day, it is critical to have constant check on the pace against the planned pace strategy while communicating and motivating the Cadet. The Mentor can offer all they can but it is the Cadet that will have to be mentally and physically prepared to pull through the race.