Monday, November 23, 2015

Playing to Your Strengths

As you can imagine, I'm thinking a lot about the Fox and Turkey 4-miler on Thanksgiving Day. No doubt a lot of my excitement is to be finally running a race again since the last time I ran on the clock was on July 25, but after a few "bad" races in terms of tactics over the summer, I've decided to be really dedicated to following a plan that works for me on Thursday.

Time-wise, I had a pretty great summer. After starting the year with a 28:32 5K in March -- to set an over-40 personal best -- I set my eye on breaking 28 minutes with the hope of going even lower. I almost got there a few weeks later when I ran 28-flat at a race in early May.

Though I flirted with sub-28 in my next several races, I never made it there, and bad race tactics were my undoing. I started getting into the habit of "running to my watch" by setting the exact pace I needed and tried to run to that number.

It just didn't work because I wasn't going by my natural rhythm of my running style. I was trying to force myself into a style that my body wasn't comfortable with, I was just forcing things too much.

It wasn't a matter of starting out too fast, because I often do that and it's OK. It hurts, but it's OK. My first mile in my 28:32 run in March was 8:38, but it didn't feel forced because part of the mile was downhill and I adjusted accordingly from there. I wasn't telling myself "you HAVE to run THIS pace!", like the habit I worked my way into, I was just running hard.

The best races are ones that just evolve that way, many times since I've started running I have run that way and had the best results. One that stands out to me was the 2007 Indy Mini Marathon, I just went out and ran, and in the course of running my half PR (1:42:35), I actually ran under my 5K and 10K PRs as I closed out the race!

"I guess if I really got to thinking about it, I just drove" -- Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights

That was really my attitude about that day, and it worked! That is how I (and probably lots of people) run my best!
I started thinking about this after my run Saturday. I hadn't been using my Runtastic app, just running for fun, in a while, but decided to use it just to record my distance since because of the snow I had to make up a route and wanted to keep track of the distance.

I didn't look at my time at all, just went out and set a comfortable pace, and was surprised to find that I ran the first mile in 10:37, followed by miles of 10:44 and 10:43. I was feeling good so I decided to start upping the pace and blasted the last .75 miles at a 9:35 pace to drop my overall pace to 10:27 for the entire run!

Now, I ask you, if I had gone out and run to a 10:27 pace on the clock, do you think I would've had the same kind of run? I don't. The run evolved, which made it so cool, and when I look back at other epic races -- and even just training runs -- that were so good they will stick in my mind forever, that is the common theme.

So on Thursday, I'm just going to run like that. I have a time in my mind what I would like to run, but I'm not going to worry about times or splits, I'm going to run the race and see how it plays out. I'm looking forward to a great run...who knows, it might even be epic!


  1. Sometimes you do surprise yourself when the pressure is off and you run strictly on how you feel. Good luck with your race on Thursday! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Thanks! You have a great Thanksgiving as well! :--)