Setting A Pace For Success The Mentality Of Pushing Yourself To The Finish Line
There is a reason that the analog of feeling like you are on a marathon exists. Running a marathon is one of the most challenging feat that anyone can accomplish. In reality the body was not designed to run that long just for pure enjoyment. Instead we have been designed to save up energy for important stuff such as running away from a lion. So what is chasing those who want to set out on the pavement to conquer fear, exhaustion, thirst and sometimes the desire not to go one more step? It is their will and the longing to do something they have made a commitment to. The key to making it through your first marathon to your hundredth is learning to pace yourself.
When you are training, pacing is an easier thing to do. When it is just you and potentially anyone who has enlisted to train with you, the only person that you have in your head is yourself. On race day there are so many other factors to contend with. You have the crowd cheering you on, all the sites and sounds, your family who you probably want to make proud and of course the other runners around you. A good majority of marathoners can go through the race at their own pace, reverting back to their training and shut the rest out. There are some of us, however, who are affected by the goings on around and it changes the dynamics of the whole event. If you are someone who when the gun goes off, the switch goes off and nothing seems familiar, here are some easy steps to take to pace yourself. More mental than physical, if you can try to keep all these things in your mind the road will go much smoother, literally.
You only have to beat yourself
If you are a competitor by nature, then you are going to get anxious when everyone seems to be passing you by. Even the most seasoned marathon runners know that there are going to be those who get out ahead, but they also know that a good majority of those people will peter out right as the one who paced themselves correctly is getting their second wind. Try not to be concerned with other runners. They have their own course to run. If you focus on where you are, and where you are headed, then you will get there in record time. Don’t expend your energy trying to get out in first, there will be time in the end to pull ahead.
The thing to be most aware of is your breathing. Your ability to get air in is not only going to be the key to your muscles getting enough oxygen to get you through, it is telling you if you are going to fast. The talk test is something that most runners already know about, but few practice. If you can’t have a conversation when endurance running than you are working too hard. The road is going to be long and arduous. Even if there is no one beside you it is okay to try to talk to yourself to see where your breath pattern is at. Have a rehearsed saying to repeat and make sure that you can say it out loud without fail throughout the beginning and middle of the race.
Talk yourself up
Going along with the conversation that you can have with yourself, there is going to be no one out there training you and telling you what to do. Have some key phrases that you know motivate you and repeat them to yourself when you start to feel exhaustion. There are going to be times along the way where you would rather just tell your legs to stop and forget the whole thing. Having those motivational pick me ups to tell yourself will keep you on track and help to pace you when the road gets more difficult. Using them in a pattern under your breath can be a great way to ensure that you are pacing yourself effectively. Like music, you can ensure that you are running to your own “beat” per say, literally.
The last bit of energy
Pacing yourself revolves around starting out not slow, but strong. You want to use the available resources that you have to get a little ahead of not the crowd, but yourself. Once you feel comfortable that you are where you want to be time wise, you can kind of sit back and coast. The first ten miles (16 km) are when you are going to want to pull out the stops. Once you get to around the twelfth mile and you begin to feel the mileage working against you, it may be time to hold back a little bit and slow the pace.
Your energy stores are like a battery. You are going to be wearing the battery down. The problem is that you can’t stop midway and recharge yourself. In terms of electricity and energy, when you feel yourself starting to bottom-out, about the twentieth mile, it is time to cut back and regroup mentally. Slow your pace down and allow your body to build up some energy again for the remaining mileage.
Many runners will talk about an electricity inside of them. You can feel it begin to wear out, but if you just slow down your pace and your breath and mentally picture the battery beginning to juice back up, when it is time to pick the pace back up again, you will have the remaining reserves to kick it back into high gear. For miles 12 (19 km) through about 22 (35 km) you are going to want to pay close attention to where your energy stores are at, focus on your mental strength at that point, giving yourself a pep talk while holding back just a little to restore that electricity to get you to the end.
At about the 22-26 mile (35-41 km) mark you are going to want to ramp it up again. This is the time when you imagine that tiny light inside of yourself. We all know that tiny light that is barely burning, but it is still there. This is the time to feed it oxygen and watch it shine again. Around this marker it is time to ramp it up again. By this time endorphins are in full swing, as are anticipation to accomplish what you have been working so hard for. It is now time to grow that fire inside your soul and to give it all that you have.The last several miles should be at about the same pace you began with, or if you have it in you, perhaps even a little quicker pace. Knowing the end is near you have to find the last bit of determination that you have and push it to the limit.
We often use the word pacing yourself in the running world. The problem is that everyone runs at their own speed and their mental determination is self determined. If you listen to what your body is telling you, while at the same time mentally always have the goal in mind, pushing and encouraging yourself to make it to the finish line, you will get there in plenty of time to see your proud friends and family waiting at the finish line. Find that light that burns in us all, and use it to get you through the toughest times.