In recent years I done some research on the factors that help me perform well in long distance running. My main conclusions are as follows. 1) Training is preferable to no training. 2) I like rain. 3) Non-ambitious goals are easier to reach than are ambitious goals. I am sure that my findings will revolutionize the long distance running world.
Today I participated in the annual 10k race Cursa Bombers. In order to maximize my performance I prepared as follows.
Training: After not running since November I started running again 3 weeks ago. I ran 3 times a week for 2 weeks, followed by a week of rest. I was thus not completely out of shape before today’s race.
Rain: For the past week I have danced a rain-dance every evening in order to increase the possibility of rain. It worked in the beginning. It rained a fair bit. Toward the end of the week, however, I seem to have lost my rhythm and the sun started to shine.
Goals: My research shows that non-ambitious goals are ideal for success — that is, if we measure success as performance relative to goals. However, I must say that ambitious goals are more fun than non-ambitious ones. I did thus decide to go for ambitious ones — I aimed at running the 10k in 45-48 minutes.
In order to be able to keep track of my performance relative to my goals I started calculating desired laptimes after each kilometer. That is, I had to run the first kilometer below 4:48. The first two below 2 x 4:48 = 9:36. The first three below 3 x 4:48 = 14:24. Etc.
I soon discovered that my goals were arithmetically too challenging for me. The 4:48 multiplication table is just too difficult for me. Hence, I decided to set myself more realistic goals. I decided to run the race in 45-47:30 minutes. The 4:45 multiplication table — or rather the (5:00 – 0:15) multiplication table — is much easier than the 4:48 one.
After sorting out the arithmetic I could start my warm-up. My warm-up consisted of jogging down Passeig de Sant Joan — down to Estació França. I jogged alone for the first few meters. Graduately I was joined by more runners as I approached the starting line. When I arrived at Arc de Triomf it was getting rather crowded. There were runners all over the place. Men dressed in white t-shirts with the print “Triomf és masculí”. Women in red t-shirts with the print “Victòria és femení”.
At 10 the race started. I soon found a comfortable running pace and hoped it was close to the goals I had laid out. tI was not. After each kilometer I calculated how I was doing relative to my upper limit:
- 4:59 – (5:00 – 0:15) = 0:14
- 9:51 – 2x(5:00 – 0:15) = 0:21
- 14:41 – 3x(5:00 – 0:15) = 0:26
- 19:39 – 4x(5:00 – 0:15) = 0:39
- 24:34 – 5x(5:00 – 0:15) = 0:49
After running 5k I had thus calculated that I was 49 seconds above the upper bound of my planning. I had to do something to get myself on track. I had to find a way to run faster.
All of a sudden the solution came to me. I decided to stop calculating how I was doing compared to my goals. My reasoning was that all the arithmetic was causing excessive flow of oxygen to the brain — at the cost of oxygen flow to my legs that certainly had more use for the substance. I stopped calculating and concentrated on running.
The plan worked. For a while. I ran the next two kilometers at a decent pace. In retrospect I ran them on the original goal of 4:48 minutes (perhaps my legs are better at arithmetic than my brain). With 7 kilometers behind me I started to experience problems with keeping up the pace. I could feel myself slowing down. I could not find the energy needed to reverse the trend. All I could do was to try to push myself to the limit so that I would not slow down too much.
In the end, I completed the race in 49:14 minutes. Three seconds from my personal best. Not bad. I do however find it scary that I have run three 10k races in a row in just over 49 minutes. Have I found my natural running pace? Will I ever be able to break through the 49 minute barrier? Only time will tell.
To be continued …