…Or, this one running tip they don’t want you to know will change your life! Or not.
Yesterday, after the best part of a year, I ran in the Black Country Road Run 10k yesterday. Firstly, I have to say it was incredibly well organised, the stewards and the route were fantastic, and the weather was ideal. It was my first organised race for over a year, as I have been travelling, and save for a brief stint when I lived by Princes Park* in Brunswick, Victoria, I haven’t ran properly with an aim for about a year.
I had been taking a run a week with my dear lady wife for the last month, and I think this had kept me from falling too much into disrepair, but I only properly trained (3+ runs a week) for the fortnight before. Even by my standards (smoker, beer bellied, last to be picked at school), my times were looking pretty poor, and I anticipated a finish in about 1hr 10mins, at the back of the pack, but at least I would have finished it.
On the day however, I came in at seconds over the hour, setting a personal best for myself, at 1hr and 57 seconds. We’re never grateful, and I have cursed the water break I took to hell, for those 58 seconds that meant I didn’t get in under an hour. But I smashed what I had been expecting, to the point where I had taken a minute and a half off my best ever time, from over a year ago, when I was running three days a week, every week.
For the life of me, I couldn’t work out what I had done differently. Yes, the race adrenaline probably helped, and yes, I was shamed into taking less breaks due to being surrounded by fit people, but at best, that would knock maybe 5 minutes off. Then I remembered that around the three mile mark, where I normally have to really push myself mentally not to have a skive, for a mile and a half or so I was playing a little game- I would look at the person in front of me, and think, “well they’re not much faster than me. They must be pretty crap too! I’m going to catch them and overtake them”. I did this for about a mile and a half.
Looking back over my results, with the exception of the mile where I stopped to take some needed water after a nasty little hill, all my mile times were better after I started doing this. There is literally no science and one example of this working, but I am totally trying this again, just to see if I have discovered my new best motivating trick!
Anyway, I hope that this is of use to someone, at some point, and if it’s not, then I hope you forgive my wittering on.
*Princes Park, and most parks in the Melbourne area is amazing for running. Regular water points, huge and well designed, it is a great place to relax, have a coffee, run, watch a sports match, I even saw a ton of LARPers practicing.