Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I can't run with you I'll slow you down? How come you guys look so comfortable running? You hardly look out of breathe.

I'm so not an 'elite' runner, maybe a good 'club' runner but that would be it. I do love racing, I love the competitive element, and the chance to test my training out. But when I'm confronted with those terms, I find it quite frustrating. So in the hope of dispelling those 'myths' and maybe even gaining the occasional training partner I'll go through them;

1) I do 90% of my training solo, so the chance of running with someone is always a bonus! The pace really doesn't matter, especially if it maybe takes you a bit out of your comfort zone (if that's what you want) and leads to improvement. If it's a purely social run and there are walks on hills, cool! I ran the last 8 miles of a 30 mile training run with a friend on Saturday. We slowed down when I reached him, which maybe wasn't cool for him, but it helped me get to end in OK shape and not completely stuffed! He worked a bit harder maybe than normal and he made sure we took it easy on the hills. He still wants to run with me, so I guess it was OK.

2) Looks really can be deceptive! Especially in races. When I started running, I loved racing anything above 10k. I would spend the majority of the race in a 'comfortable' place not at maximum effort. However, the more I raced, the more I pushed the boundaries, improved my times and then had to work harder to achieve new personal bests. Now any race below a marathon is very near to my maximum effort with a half marathon feeling as hard as a 10k. It MAY look easier, because I'm not stopping and walking or completely out of breathe, but my legs are dying under me, and my brain is trying to ignore the pain by thinking about anything but how far it is to the end. Unsuccessfully.

Sometimes closing your eyes helps!
I'm re-reading Haruki Murakami's excellent 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running' and when asked what he thinks about when he's running he invariably can not think of anything specific. Racing to me is the exact opposite of that. I think specifically about how far the next mile marker is (a long way), can I maintain this pace (surprisingly usually yes), did I go off too fast (yes, but it's hard not to in the charge from the line), who is the competition (often the least likely candidate), do I always feel this bad (yes), how far to go (too far).

Beautifully written
Those are the very specific thoughts going through my mind. You could call it 'focus' and certainly if I start working through personal issues, trying to deal with work challenges, etc when racing, my pace can vary (normally slowing) and it becomes a distraction. So there's no choice but to focus on the pain and how long there is left of it!

3) I'm ALWAYS out of breathe at the end, and on any significant hills, but before that it's more muscle pain, until real fatigue kicks in and my heart rate increases to maximum and you try and 'kick' for the finish. Kick meaning to me, knowing that the finish line is a given distance away and you can give it everything. In a 5k it might be with 500m to go, in a marathon with 2 or 3 miles to go.

These internal battles that do not show themselves to others are still there nonetheless, and I'm suffering just as much as the next runner :)

No comments:

Post a Comment