I spent my rest day yesterday recovering from the late race hills and thinking a bit about a very basic, but important lesson I’m finally learning, the more I admit that sometimes I can be a bit competitive.
Here goes: You’re only in control of you. You can compete with others, or race against them, but the only performance you can influence your own.
I’ll have to learn how to better embrace and live, breathe, and believe it, but writing it down, saying it out loud, and reminding myself of its implications when I want to eat ice cream on the couch instead of running is a start.
I listened in on a running webinar about getting faster last night and the coach said that often runners run their hard runs too easy and their easy runs too hard. Elite Kenyan marathoners, he said, sometimes log their easy and recovery runs at 8-10 minute mile pace, for example. That seems impossible to me, but it’s a loud-and-clear point: slow the heck down and recover, people! Then, on the flip side, work hard and get uncomfortable during hard and fast workouts.
I’m definitely guilty of playing the middle of the road and it has mystified me for awhile. I was running 8-9 minute miles for everything from 5Ks to half marathons and in marathon training runs, too. Then, on race day I’d hang in there around 9 for a good chunk of the race before crashing and burning and finishing with a race average around 9:30+. Perhaps a better balance of hard and easy workouts — real ones — would have prepared my body better for a faster, harder race day performance.
It’s also worth noting that when I ran my two strongest half marathon efforts three weeks apart in February and March of 2012, I was doing one one-hour track workout a week. 60 minutes of torture on a track equated quickly to running substantially faster and more comfortably on harder courses and it was so worth it.
My next race is in less than three weeks, so I won’t be making any dramatic overhauls between now and then, but I’ll be working on changing my thinking, and resisting the urge to compare my performance to others. A little competition is cool, but I need to stop using race times as a measure of self-worth. Yes, how quickly you get your butt from start to finish is the measuring stick, but there’s just no value in setting a goal that assumes control far beyond my capability.
Pile on the Miles Challenge Update: 55/110 miles, 18/30 days, but heading out tonight (day 19 isn’t over yet!) to break the 60-mile mark.