When it comes to race day, am I racing hard enough? Am I pushing my body truly to the limit of what it can handle? Am I redlining past the point of comfortable? Running at the suicide pace that Prefontaine spoke about? Are my legs that fatigued when it comes to the startline, that I can truly race it? What if I rested up, would I be faster? Have I done enough? Have I done too much? Am I really racing or am I just running? How am I really going to be able to achieve my full potential?
What is my true race pace?
When it comes to a race, many of my races used to be, my most difficult run of the week. Today marks event number ‘326’ (according to the power of ten) I’ve raced plenty of times now, I’ve practiced the art of racing. Many of them are still difficult, but I go into many of the races, knowing that I’ve done tougher. I’ve introduced speed work into my diet since I’ve started running races 3 years ago, which is pretty tough; hill work is sadistically tougher.
My heart rate varies, and sits surprisingly low in races averaging usually at 130-140. I will be checking that when I upgrade my heart rate monitor at Christmas. But focusing away from HR, my Rate of Perceived Exertion, I would also say is quite low. 6-7-8. Depending generally on gradient of climb. I’m not finding it the toughest thing, I’ve ever done; but likewise I’m not taking it too easy so that I don’t feel it. But am I able to push to the point where it is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done? My chest may be able to handle it, but can my legs, can my body, can my stomach or head?
I spent some time in the boyfriend position when in York yesterday; the boyfriend or partner position, is either outside or sat in a chair in a shop, waiting for your other half. I was flicking around on my watch anyway and came across these figures.
My race predictions according to my Fenix 3. Obviously this doesn’t take into account conditions, course profile or competition. But in a basic world, with no variables, is this really what I am able to achieve right now? The 5k would get me just 1 second slower than a course record at Barnsley Parkrun! The Marathon time would be a 12 and half minute PB. Is this really possible? Maybe it could be, if I tapered right? Could I unlock my potential and really achieve some massive PB’s by listening to a training guide or program? What if I do some lactate threshold training, will I take minutes off of my PB like it promises?
All of these questions I ask myself daily, sometimes others ask me them. I’ve been running 140-150 mile weeks for 5 month and I’ve been doing it my way. I haven’t tapered for marathons, not recovered ‘properly’ after races. I haven’t slept some nights, I may not have eaten right, somedays not eaten at all. Some of what appear to be my slowest runs, are seriously my most difficult. The fast ones are the easiest, somedays. My body talks to me, gives me niggles, stresses and worries. But minute (mi-nute) things underpin my whole training, the belief that ‘Miles Make Champions’ and if you seriously believe in yourself you will have the strongest possible chance to achieve anything you want. Ultimately you have to believe in yourself before anyone else will have the faith to believe in you. If you believe in your training and stubborn way, sometimes needing the reluctancy to change and you will be able to pursue your goals. Do it your way, adapt from others but importantly it’s your way, your imprint. Whether it’s minimalist, overload, structured, fitted around work, rushed, statistical or methodological. It’s your way, stay true to yourself and your understanding, believe and you will achieve.
One day I will run my true suicide, eyeballs out pace. Then I will have achieved it through my overload, progressive training method! Until then everything else is a work in progress.
Well today, as it’s another ‘local’ race, I opted to run there and run back. Dads day off from work, so I got them to drive a spare pair of clothes through, making it easier. Around 8.5-9 mile there, not too much climb but neither is it pancake flat.
That’s the time to beat on this course, set last year when I was at my lowest possible point for running, previously racing Clowne half marathon and feeling crap all the way round. Picking up every bug and illness from schools. I was seeing other runners pull away from me. Not having PB’ed for months and seriously loosing touch with it. I was still going though, that was the main thing. I even started my streak around this time last year.
My splits from last year show how much of a struggle it was, especially in the 4/5 mile. It’s a rolling course with some sharp hills, which can take all momentum out of you.
I wasn’t particularly interested in racing here today initially, just using it as a long run and all part of the training for something bigger. So opting to run there was obviously the right choice for me.
Setting off at 9 for a steady one hour plod and getting there at 10 seemed ace, legs still feeling fresh, I went and paid for my number. Emailing the organisers earlier in the week to reserve one for collection. Not many ‘unattached’ runners around. A load of club vests, Penistone, BaHa’s, BAC’s, Wakefield Tri and Kingstone. I hung around the start, not really needing to warm up anymore opting to speak to Bryan for a bit and take my time finding the toilets. Mark I’ve apparently turned you into a monster, many Kingstone runners told me this morning!
Speaking to Rich Hayes before the start, he pointed out a few of the faster runners who would be around us. I really didn’t think about anything like that today, so it was good for someone else to do my thinking for me! Traditional race briefing and off we went. Like I had said, I wasn’t racing. So I set off steady, letting the leading group leave me. It can be relatively fast the start but it begins climbing after half a mile or so. The climb hits you sharp as soon as you reach it. Today it felt different and the race had brought an extremely fast field, I was relatively comfortable up the first climb, ticking the mile off in 6:33 (this was to be my slowest mile of the race).
I could now see it unfolding in front of me, people settling into positions, something I very rarely see so early. I picked it up in the second mile hitting 6:09, maybe the panicking horses at the house had sped me up? Onto the 2 miles of downhill now, 2 runners in front of me by about 10 seconds and Rich a little ahead of them. Finding myself in 9th place and I couldn’t hear anyone behind. I felt like I was in race mode now, I didn’t want to be but the number on my chest was screaming! I kicked on for the downhill sprint to find Steve Frith on the bend.
Thinking to myself now, I’ve got to let the legs run. I lengthened my stride to try and bounce, to catch the lads in front. Back onto the steep mile uphill, now about to catch one of the lads in front. Finding myself in 8th, past the horses that had now settled with riders on their backs. Onto the final mile and letting my legs go, clocking through it in 5:04.
I finished in 36:58, 8th position.
My biggest regret that I didn’t set off fast enough to race it, but it was an extra 6 miles done in my long run. 9 miles home, made 24 miles for the morning of adventure. There is seriously some gorgeous country out there for us, you’ve just got to look up every now and again to enjoy it!
12,657 ft of climb
19 hours and 16 minutes on foot
2 weeks of 2016 left! 2017 has got to be massive.