Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Change of Pace

Last fall, shortly after having a revelation that coaching cross country would be the "perfect job" for me (the latest in at least a few "perfect jobs" that I've thought of in the last couple of years...more on that later), I started reading some books on coaching.  I read one piece of advice that I've come back to several times since.  The author was describing a situation that I think every runner has faced at some point:  you are running in a race and you are feeling TIRED and want to slow down or drop out of the race.  The author recommended encouraging the runner to try speeding up first, before slowing down.  (What?!?)  His reasoning was that sometimes, the runner doesn't really need to slow down.  What the runner really needs is a change of pace (Daniels' Running Formula by Jack Daniels, PhD).

This sounded a little crazy to me, but I wanted to test the author's theory.  I first tried this at the gym.  For me, less daylight=treadmill running at the gym.  I don't typically enjoy running on the treadmill.  Unless I have someone to talk to, I get bored easily or start obsessing about my running milage or pace.  I started inserting some quick pace running into my normal routine, even at points where I would typically feel tired.  Often, I was able to keep up my quick goal pace.  Amazing!

I look back over my life at the times when I've felt discouraged or weary, or when I've ended relationships or activities or jobs, and I wonder how many times I chose to retreat when I really needed to accelerate.

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