Running My Own Race

I had a good 9 mile run today. It’s hardly worth commenting on except to note its pace. Pfitzinger prescribes a lot of general aerobic runs, especially in the first few weeks of his program, where he focuses on endurance. That’s fine. They’re meant to be run a good bit off of marathon pace. Fine.

However, it was a gorgeous day. After two days of cold, it was around 60 degrees when I took off on the run and the sun felt glorious. Because of this, every single runner in Williamsburg was out. In the woods, on the streets, down back alleys. It was an infestation! I think the local Chamber of Commerce may have even imported some runners from neighboring locales.

Now, I’m a pretty laid-back person. I’m not particularly competitive in most parts of my life. I make sure I only beat children at Monopoly by very small margins. (Suckers!)

However, in sports it’s all different. I want to win. Always. 

This can be useful. I love when my brother runs with me on fast days. He pushes me further than I could ever push myself. And he’s a cool dude. But when the purpose of the run is to put in miles but save your legs for an upcoming hard workout? As I did my 9 miles, swarms of runners passed by. I wanted to call out to them: I’m normally much faster than this! It took so much self-control to focus on the goal of the run and not take off and try to keep up with them.

It’s childish, I know. Several years ago, I was three or four miles into a long run on the track when someone else strolled up and started his workout. The guy was definitely in ok shape but he began running right after I went by and passed me right away. My heartbeat quickened. I could take him. He didn’t look that fast. I sped up a little. Around he came again. Panic. Was I really a runner? Logging all these miles just to get passed by some Joe Shmoe so easily? I dug in and quickened my stride. But he was still getting away. I was pushing. I wouldn’t want him to think I couldn’t run. Faster. Faster!

And then he stopped. 

He ran about a mile. Tops. He did it at a quick pace but he ran a mile. And here I was, maybe 4 miles into a long run and going way above marathon pace. Different paces for different races. My focus should have been on my goal. I felt like I was in a children’s book where the kid finally learns that he or she should focus on what they’re doing rather looking over their shoulder and comparing themselves to their friends. Everybody’s doing their own run – it’s not a competition. I swear I don’t usually have to learn the same life lessons as a five year old.

Since then I’ve been a lot better about staying focused and running my own workout. The killer instinct is stlll there, though. At 26.1 miles I’m sure I’ll be quite happy with my competitive spirit as I try to finish strong. But 9 slow miles today are so much better than 9 fast miles that leave me unable to finish this week properly. So I did it! I conquered my competitiveness for today at least. I’ll have to check-in with you all again next week. And the week thereafter.

(Also, to be clear, I was joking about not letting small children win at board games.)

(Maybe.)

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One Response to Running My Own Race

  1. I really like this post and can relate to a lot of it (including the board games). I fully understand the importance of the different workouts and why some of them need to be run at a slow pace. Still, I worry about what other runners think when I plod along at a 9:30-minute mile pace. The silliest thing is that I genuinely never have such judgemental thoughts about the pace of other runners. If I encounter a slow runner, I just assume that they are warming up, recovering from injury, cooling down, have already run 20 miles, etc. Oh, the runner’s fallacy! 😉

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