The San Francisco 49ers have won four games in a row to place themselves in great position for a playoff run as a wild card. They have paced themselves well throughout the season, with a couple early losses and some midseason ones, before a hopefully strong finish. As I recently finished the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama (in 3:19:37), I figured I would offer a 10 lessons for the 49ers to learn, and some that they have learned — such as the pacing — from what it takes to run a marathon.
1) Dedication. Running a marathon takes a lot of work outside of the day of the race. Many fun events must go unattended and a lot of time must be spent working on the body.
2) Injuries. Best if avoided, but when they occur you have to be careful when to push through and when to relax for a bit. If you’re just going to pull a muscle or injure something else even worse, it’s best to wait until the playoffs.
3) Pain. It will happen. Deal with it.
4) Don’t fear failure. If you do, it will happen.
5) Pace yourself. Don’t start too hot, otherwise you’ll fade a la the Denver Broncos.
6) Take hiccups in stride. Sometimes on the marathon route you have to use a port-a-potty for #2. Sometimes you have to do it twice. Get back on track as soon as possible.
7) Thrive when no one pays attention to you. It’s the times when the team is underrated, or when no one is watching on long training runs, where you make or break your race/season.
8) Support each other. Marathons have water stations scattered throughout the course and runners often give each other energy supplement gels if someone forgot/lost some. A team that has each other’s back gets through the rough patches much more easily. (See: Aldon Smith).
9) Don’t stand still. You are always getting better or worse, but you are never staying the same.
10) “Non-athletes” are athletes too. I’m looking at you Phil Dawson.