Running at your own pace in a race - as well as your life - is important!
Why you say?
Well let me explain based on my own experience.
I and my Red Line Running teammates have been preparing to run in the National Senior Games. So we've been practicing very hard, running lots of miles and trying to work on our speed and endurance.
L to R: Daniel, Coach Wayne, me, Beth, Brett
Coach Wayne Morris also has us working on PACE. This has been one of the most difficult tactics for me to learn.
You see, if you are running four laps around the track and you go out really hard and fast and keep up at your maximum speed for the first lap, you will find the second lap very difficult, the third lap even more difficult, and by the last lap you will be in complete oxygen debt, wondering what the heck happened.
Well, what happened is you didn’t pace yourself so you could go the distance!
It takes conscious effort not to run like a racehorse the first lap just because it feels so good.
No, you have to take it down a notch after your quick get-away and settle into your rhythm and enjoy the run. Believe me, slowing down 2-3 seconds will feel like 5-10 seconds (i.e. a breeze) once you figure out how to do it.
The next lap will be fine, and so will the third lap.
By the fourth lap you might be getting tired, but your mind and your body know you can go the distance. The last 100 meters you can go in high gear and kick it into super-high gear at the very end.
This feat is easier said than done. On a recent regional meet, my competition was starting to pass me on lap 2 and I wanted desperately to catch her or at least keep up.
Coach yelled from the sidelines, “Run your own race!”, so I complied, as hard as it was.
By lap 3, things were shaping up quite differently. She was running out of steam, and I was just getting started. It felt soooo good to run past her and on to the finish line for gold.
This would not have happened if I tried to run with her instead of at my pace. (It also helps to have a coach yelling at you!)
Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four-minute mile, was a master at this.
He ran the race at his pace, just keeping close enough to the pack to be in contention, so that on his last lap, he had the stamina, strength, and at times, just sheer will, to speed ahead, and pass them all to the finish line.
We are much the same way on our life’s journey. We see others making those milestones – marriage, children, career, home, vacations, and retirement all seemingly ahead of us and our timeline. Some of us work so hard without taking proper care of ourselves, that we reach burnout instead!
A much better way is to find your own rhythm, your own pace, and run your own race. You don’t need to dawdle at the starting line (Coach always yells "Get out!"), but make clear, consistent progress, keeping your goals in mind, not where you are in comparison to others.
Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others! We all have our own journey (or race to run) in life. Yours doesn’t equal mine and mine doesn’t equal another’s.
Just remember to go at your own pace!