Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Run Your Own Race

As a runner, how often do you hear this piece of advice given?

Constantly, right?

I'm a new runner. But both races I've done, I started out fast. Too fast for my level of running. I was passing people, a lot, and it felt good. I was running based on how many people I could dart past.

Sure, it was fun. Until mile 1.5, when I wanted to walk the rest of the way and every step was stupid and awful.

I've been wondering why my long runs feel so much EASIER to me than my shorter runs. That doesn't really make sense, does it?

When I do my mid-week runs, I'm constantly trying to one-up myself. I always try to go faster than last time. I always start off at a reasonable pace (for my fitness level), and then I see that timer ticking higher, and higher. And I can't let it go. I HAVE TO BE FASTER. That is how I end up running my last quarter mile of every treadmill run at a ridiculous pace that I have NO business touching yet. My "Miracle Mile" pace is 8:48. That puts my SPEEDWORK at 10:11-10:32. I finished my quarter mile at a 7:32 pace.

And why? Because I saw the time creeping up past what I thought was "acceptable".

Never mind that I have virtually skipped 4 weeks of training. Never mind that I have NEVER run that pace, ever. Never mind that I'm supposed to be doing an EASY run at 10:46.

I wanted to beat myself.

And every time I do this (which is, every time I'm on the treadmill), I hate it. I want to puke. It's hot. I never want to run again. And this time, in addition to the near-puking, I jacked up my leg. And had to miss ANOTHER bunch of runs.

All because I was impatient. I made myself compete, against myself.

How silly does that sound? It's TRAINING, for a FUN RUN.

Don't get me wrong. I totally believe competitiveness is a virtue - it definitely has it's own time and place. But this wasn't it.

And the crazy thing is, I'm a HUGE advocate of applying this principle across my life. I don't compare leukemia stories. I don't compare my work to other people in my office. I do what I need to do, and keep it moving. No fuss, no worrying about other folks. I run my own race.

Monday night, I went for a run. Outside, with the H. I blogged (briefly) about my first attempt at running with H here... but let me sum it up for you: Terrible.

He's fast - he comfortably runs a 7:30 mile (I think?). Last time, I felt compelled to keep up. I was chasing him. And I lasted less than a mile before my first walk break.

Monday night, I focused on running my own race. I ran slow, but I ran steady, and I didn't worry about where he was. He would dart off, and loop back and jog with me for awhile. And we finished our 3.2 mies, slowly (I think he ended just shy of 4?).

But, and this is how I know I did something right... I LOVED EVERY SECOND. I felt GREAT. I never felt impatient, or rushed, or antsy. And at the end, I felt good enough to sprint the last .2 faster than him. Because he darted all about and was dead by the end of our loop.



  1. Hey - It has been forever! I hope you're doing well! Coincidentally, I started running too. I'm up to about 4 miles per day - though there are days where I can barely run 2... where I feel like I'm going to collapse... and other days where I feel like I can literally run a marathon.

    What I have discovered, are that my new Nike Free shoes are AMAZING. They completely transformed my running capabilities - obviously for the better. Just my two cents. Take it or leave it!



  2. It's hard to "run your own race". I find myself speeding up even when I merely see other runners along my route. Good job enjoying your run and doing it your way!

  3. Did you write this so that I could yell at you about not sticking to your training zones? Be smart, you'll enjoy it more than "racing" yourself.

  4. Like Laurie, I always speed up at any sign of life. A car, a person, a person sitting in their house. I can't help it.

    I've realized just this week that I don't enjoy my shorter mid-week runs anymore. I think I get so mentally prepared for the long runs that the short ones have stopped being as fun. I'm going to try to change that tonight!

  5. That's exactly how my husband and I run together. We start off side by side, but pretty soon he's off ahead of me, then he loops back to come and see how I'm doing and then he's off again.

    Hope everything went well with the CSN people :)

  6. its not silly! Its a mental battle. Telling ourselves how to push past it is tough. You can do it!

  7. NICE! That post-good run feeling is flipping awesome!


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