A former pupil who was placed 24th in the mass start in the Virgin London Marathon last weekend - and produced his best personal time of 2 hours 25 minutes - returned to Glenalmond this week.
Charlie Sandison (Skrine's, 2008-13) went for a run around the Glenalmond Golf Course with some members of our Running Club before addressing our pupils and staff as part of our Athlete Development Programme.
Among his key messages during an inspirational talk was that it is the way you respond on the occasions when you fail to meet your goals which shapes who you are.
"As athletes we are too often focused on short-term outcomes - it is so important not to lose sight of the bigger picture," said Charlie. Last time he visited Glenalmond was to speak at our Sports Dinner which he did just after having to pull out of the London Marathon 2019 at mile 18, as the result of injury.
There was no hobbling on his visit this week, however, and he gave the young people listening to him three key pieces of advice.
Firstly, while success in running or any field of sport is based on objective measures - eg times or scores - it is the build up preparation which is most important and the hard work put in behind the scenes.
Secondly, he said it was vital to remember the importance of balance. "Sport is really important to me and I get a huge kick out of it. However, as sports people we have a natural tendency for a degree of obsessive, compulsive behaviour and you need to be able to control that. You need to retain a sense of balance."
Thirdly, he urged pupils to be wary of comparison. "I train with one of the best running groups in the country and you need to surround yourself with talented athletes to challenge yourself. If you carry the right mindset and keep turning up you will soon be at the front. But be wary of comparing your performance to others - the expression 'comparison is the thief of joy' holds true. As long as you are happy with the effort you are making - that’s what really matters," said Charlie, pictured below with his Dad and brother who also ran the London Marathon last weekend.
In response to a range of questions from pupils and staff, Charlie shared how he deals with the tough days when running is hard.
"Pick something to focus on - something you want to improve on like your breathing, stride length or how you are carrying your upper body. When I am running to work, I think about my job and what I want to achieve and it sets me up. I run into work so I am actually quite productive and it has also saved me money!"
He also revealed that, in his view, he does not have exceptional sporting ability. "I’ve always been an average sportsperson but I have good endurance. Be comfortable with accepting failure and defeat. You will always find a player faster and stronger but keep turning up and you will beat them."