Charlie Spedding lecture review by Tim Budd, Global Therapies

11th Mar 2012

Sports and remedial massage therapist Tim Budd (Global Therapies) took a well-deserved break from the ShAFF treatment room and went along to English marathon record holder Charlie Spedding's talk last night.   

So I was at ShAFF yesterday, doing the rounds, giving out free massages, for which, there will probably be a blog on the Global Therapies site pretty soon.  I only went to one thing yesterday, and that was a lecture, organised by AccelerateUK, given by Charlie Spedding.

For those of you who don't know (and I didn't), Charlie is the current fastest Briton to run a marathon. Sub 2:10. What is more astonishing is that he ran this time in the mid 1980s, won the London Marathon, and Bronze in the Los Angeles Olympics.  Added to which, he is a really nice guy, and delivers a fantastic talk.

What was interesting was the way in which he spoke about being, although a fairly talented runner, he wasn't spectacularly successful, or indeed, ridiculously fast. For 10 year he ground out the miles in small track meets, not really setting the world alight, but doing quite well, thank you very much.

It took a quantum shift in his mental attitude to arrive at the point where he was going to be really good. It wasn't just the training that he stepped up. As a talented runner, he certainly didn't slack in his training in the years leading up to his "epiphany", he was present and correct, and mentally there (how many of us go through training without mentally being "there"?!) but it was the language in his head, the subconscious talk about his training and his progress that he changed, which seems to have given him another level.

Ok, so it wasn't JUST that, but I am always struck, in the same way he is, that as Brits we are stuck with this concept of "not bad". We try to say things are good, but use the word "bad" to explain it, and qualify it with the word "not".  That has so many negative connotations that its not funny, why can't we start using positives to describe things? Anyhow, I'm way off track.

The talk was more about his road from coming dead last in his first ever race (the kids 100m at school) to his Olympic triumph. There wasn't much about his training schedule, (beyond not training HARD, but training PERFECTLY), and a fair amount of time was given to how he was mentally able to make himself a better runner. A lot of time was spent analysing his London Marathon victory, and explaining about what he was thinking, when he was thinking it, and how he tactically ran it. This, with clips from the race to illustrate his point was a good window into the mind of a master tactician.

He then went through the Olympic race in much the same way, and what makes it more interesting, was because although it was run in almost exactly the same time, the mental game, the tactical game and the physical issues for that race were so different. Charlie has a way with words, and an excellent speaking style, if you think that listening to someone talk about running marathons is boring, this man will change your ideas on that. I was wondering how he was going to fill the time up, and when he was finished I was astonished how time had flown. Truly inspirational.

I don't know if he is giving his talk anywhere else, if he is, seek him out and listen to him, failing that, apparently his book is pretty damn good too.

On a final note, he was 32 when he was at the Olympics. I heard one of the audience talking to him afterward saying that he felt like he had missed a trick by not applying himself in his late 20's to really become the best that he could be, and that at 31 or 32, he felt it was too late.  Charlie, ever the optimist, who, by his own admission can turn any bad thing around to make it good in his own head, came back with the comment... well, I was 32 and I won Bronze. The gentleman that won Gold, he was 37 going on 38.

There is always time.