Monday, April 12, 2010

Feedback on Speed

After a brief and much needed mini-vacation to our nation’s capital for the much anticipated Cherry Blossom Festival and 10 Mile Run, I’m finally back home, ready to attend to some blog business. Although we arrived a bit late for the cherry blossoms this year and my race performance left a bit to be desired (I’ll post a race recap in the next day or two), I had a truly wonderful time in D.C. enjoying the company of great friends, visiting many national landmarks, absorbing the running vibes from thousands of runners and basking in the glorious sunshine and the beautiful spring weather.

Thanks everyone for all the great feedback on my last post! I never imagined that an innocent question about developing race speed confidence would garner such a wide range of responses ranging from running a local 5K just for the experience of “winning” to just believing and trusting my speed to a sense that I’m just too damn slow to win anything so why bother. Interesting.

While I know most of you have followed me long enough to know that my victory isn’t really measured against others, but against me and my former self, some others still have a sense that I am all about winning awards, and accolades and recognition that I’m a great and fast runner. In actuality though, nothing could be further from the truth. I run because I have a passion to do so. I train because I enjoy the journey. I set goals because they give my running a sense of direction. I am keenly aware that I am NOT an elite, or a professional or even a fast runner. Every time I line up at a NYRR race, I am more than aware just how slow I really am. However, the point that I think some fail to realize though is that I’m perfectly okay with that. I am making progress and getting faster a little bit at a time and as long as I can still attain PRs every so often, I really could care less that I’m considered slow in the eyes of many. Along the same lines, if I fail to grab sub-3 in NJM in a few weeks because I wasn’t able to run a half-marathon time below a certain threshold or train above a certain number of miles per week, I’m okay with that too! Just because race day went bad, that doesn’t mean the training was crap or that I could’ve necessarily done anything differently. Sometimes, it’s just not your day for a breakthrough race.

My point in my previous post is that if my speed for a given day for a given race, for whatever reason, was good enough to be in contention for an age group award (like it was during my 13.1), I hope that I can rise to the occasion and be confident in my racing abilities (instead of copping out, losing speed, and expecting that someone from behind to catch up and outrun me). Now I am not saying that this will occur again with any sort of frequency whether I’m running 6:00 miles or 6:25 miles, I’m just saying that I want to be prepared if the situation should ever arise again. (Don’t worry though, I won’t be actively looking for small out-of-town 5ks to slaughter just to fulfill the requirement. That’s never been my style!)

I do take all of your hearty suggestions under advisement, but please understand that I must train according to what works for me. So excuse me if my body isn’t up for pounding out heavy fast miles around a cinder block track multiple times. I rather listen to my body and avoid injuries at all cost. And if I’m still getting faster and progressing every race (even if I’m slow to begin with) than there’s obviously some method to the madness and it really shouldn’t concern anyone else but me as to how I’m doing it. No?


Anonymous said...

definitely smart to keep true to yourself and do what your body needs. youre totally right that as long as your setting prs then you are getting faster and speedier.

Running and living said...

I see people who make training their life. And they do get better, and win AG awards, and that is great if that is what they want. But for us, who have families and work, etc, we need to balance training with everything else. I am with you, as long as I keep getting faster, and what I do is working, why play with the delicate balance of my life? I certainly would not want to become a unidimensional individual.

Jamie said...

It's smart training to know yourself and listen to your body. Keep doing what you are doing because it is what works for you.

kevin f forde said...

as always a delight to read you thoughts and insights on running.
After 34 years of running I've learnt lots of things,one being:ask 10 different runners one question you'll likely end up w/ 10 different answer!!
I think you hit the nail on the head when you said it's about you not you vs the clock or you vs other runners, to allow myself my own "Doctor Tom" moment"To thine own self be true" Shakespeare

Anne said...

Yes :)

DumpRunner Matt said...

I thought about your “speed confidence” before my 5k on Saturday. I had wondered how to gauge my speed considering this was really my first fast run of the year. I held up okay in the end but when the thought occurred during the race, I used an old trick.

I simply banished the thought and focused on my steps or the coming downhill or anything else. I am of the mind that if you dwell on the question “can I hold this pace” – you simply won’t.

You should also try at least on track meet this summer. There is nothing inherently “heavy” or “pounding” about it. In fact, most tracks surfaces are cushioned and are much easier on the legs than the roads. Plus, it is fun to explore other aspects of running (and the pacing is easier!).

Adam said...

Well said Lam!

The Laminator said...

Matt - Thanks for the suggestion.

I've done some track series in my neighborhood for the past couple of years. Nothing fancy, just with the high schoolers who throw down 800s and 1600s and I get lapped often. Still, I do them. The trouble is that the track I run on isn't so soft, and it wears and tears me down physically to the point that I have to days off from training.

I'm not adverse to doing one of these kinds of races every month or every couple of months but my body doesn't handle doing them more often like other faster people seem to be able to do week in and week out.

That's the point I'm trying to make. Congrats on finding your speed confidence by the way. I have yet to find my way, but I figure it will come eventually.

Julie said...

Now you are talking!! I hope that you are having a fantastic week Lam:)

runner26 said...

exactly! your running is about you and only you. keep doing what you're doing and enjoying it along the way.

btw, thanks for your advice re: the rest of my NJ training ;)

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Great to hear from you, Lam. Thanks so much for the nice note. I've never doubted that you run because you love it and not for the accolades. I've always marveled at how fast you are yet how generous you are with the slow pokes. It's obvious that you just love it and appreciate when others do too. Hugs!

DumpRunner Matt said...

fair enough. I can't do the more than once a month either.

Plus I forget that not every has "race" access to a quality track.

Katie said...

Hey good for you Lam! Training for you is the way to do. Oh, and while some might consider you slow, I bet there are far more out there you consider freaking fast!

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