Last year’s winner of Wings for Life World Run in Zadar, Robert Radojković, chose to run in Florida this year, but before leaving for Florida, he wanted to share some useful tips with Croatian runners that might help them exceed their own limits and maybe even break the track record he set last year.
Radojković is, without any doubt, the best Croatian ultramarathon runner. He holds two Wings for Life World Runrecords, one of which is 65,53 km from Zadar last year. He was very ambitious about Florida, where he planned to break yet another record but, unfortunately, a tendon injury is causing him great problems, minimizing his chances to win the race. Regardless of that, he is determined to run for those who can’t and hopes to exceed his expectations.
“Maybe one of these days a miracle happens and the injury heals,” says Robert. As the current Wings for Life World Run champion, he decided to share some useful tips with his potential successors, as well as those who are coming to Zadar with a mission to achieve their personal best.
1. Run for someone who can’t – that is the strongest possible motive!
The whole world had a chance to see an image of Robert’s face at the start of last year’s race, serious and deep in his thoughts. But he wasn’t thinking about winning the race! He was thinking about his friend, Luka Miolin, and his health problems. Luka is a cyclist, and a source of Robert’s motivation. Thinking about him helped Robert win the race.
“At each end every Wings for Life World Run I run for somebody I know who has problems with a spinal cord injury. All of us have someone we want to help. I am focused, and I try to channel my energy into something that I find important. If I believe that my achievement could help another person, I do my best to achieve the best result possible,” says Radojković about his source of inspirations, recommending the runners to find theirs.
2. Start strong, and use your emotions as your driving force!
“In this type of race, when you don’t know where the finish line is, you need to be completely stable mentally. You need to be aware of your abilities, be a very good marathon runner. How long you last depends on what you’re made of,” explains Radojković.
He has a tactical advice for the runners: “I advise those who perceive running only as a form of recreation to simply enjoy the run, and do what they feel. However, those who want to get a good result need to start strong from the very beginning. You don’t really know where the race ends, and you should, therefore, rely on your emotions as your driving force. Later one, it all depends on your body. The stronger you are, the better result you will achieve. After 40km, it is all just speculation. But those who want a good result need to go strong because there will be runners from different countries who won’t be easy to beat!”
3. Take advantage of the group to preserve energy and avoid wind!
After the race starts and the first few kilometers are behind you, it is wise to take advantage of your competitors to have it easier and be more successful.
“It is best to run in a group, but you must be comfortable with the pace of the group…otherwise you will get into trouble. If the pace feels right, start with a group, and later on, after a few kilometers, if you realize you can increase the pace, just do it. You should take advantage of the group to preserve energy and avoid direct wind.”
4. Drink something regularly, it’s not a waste of time!
When you’re after your personal best or wish to break the record set by Radojković, every second seems crucial. Many runners make the mistake of not taking enough fluids or carbohydrates because they think they will waste too much time slowing down for hydration. That, however, can be a fatal mistake.”
“There are refreshment stations every 5km, and you can drink some fluids there and take some food. Don’t worry about slowing down for a few seconds to drink something before getting back on the track, because once you become too thirsty, there’s no going back. Do not drink too much water, but make sure you stop every once in a while, slow down a bit and drink something.”
5. You will face crisis, but you need to overcome it!
Even a highly motivated ultramarathon runner with good tactics will face crisis at one point or another. Is there a way to avoid it and what’s the easiest way to overcome it?
“You will have crisis, that’s for sure! If someone tells you they never had it, it only means they didn’t really run properly. When you get to a point where you feel you just can’t go on, that’s the real crisis. When that happens, you shouldn’t slow down too much, definitely not by one minute per kilometer…try at least half a minute, because the crisis will be over much quicker then. You need to suffer a little and then you simply overcome it. Once it’s over, you can continue almost normally. It is true, though, that you never get back to normal so the later the crisis comes, the better result you will achieve,” concludes Robert Radojković.
He is very interested to see what happens in Zadar. If someone breaks his record, he plans to set a new one next year!