I know I keep revisiting this post from 2012 and revise it each year, but it still seems relevant and it is something I like to re-read on occasion. I have reconciled myself to the process of getting better without worrying about others and how fast they are, but I have to admit there are times where the frustration over my own slow progress compared to others gets overwhelming at times … to the point of distraction.
Let me be clear here … I am not comparing myself to those who have been running their whole lives. I know they enter with a much larger base than I have or ever will have at this point, so comparing myself to “little rubber people” is an exercise in futility. No, I am speaking of those men, and women, built much like I am, and in some cases bigger than I am, that run faster, and farther with seemingly less effort and little training.
Case in point, there were two races in my area over a summer weekend a couple of years ago that people in my department were running; a 10k and a Half Marathon. A co-worker came to my desk and started talking to me about the races and some issue he was having (along with another co-worker who had been talking to me about some knee pain she had been having while training for a Marathon). This is a two-pronged issue. In the first case, I thought it was great that on a floor containing over 100 staff the word has gotten out about my training and efforts and some were seeking out my opinions. A bit surreal at the very least. On the other hand, I cannot help comparing what I do to others that are asking my input.
I wish I could say that I was above that and only worry about myself, but I am human, regardless of previous reports.
Now, the marathoner is a good runner, so there was no illusion that I could outrun them. Add to that the fact that they train a lot and are in pretty good shape and it would just be an effort in futility to even try to match them at this point. As ab side note, I am trying hard to get them into triathlons, because I firmly believe in this sport and it’s ability to turn good runners into great triathletes. The 10k person, on the other hand, is someone I should be able to match, if not beat, consistently. They have lost a tremendous amount of weight and are one of the truly nice people in county government, so they deserve kudos for all their efforts. When they asked me about running and told me about the races I asked if they had done a half marathon before. They had not, the most distance in training is a 6-mile run, and now they were going to do that on Thursday then attempt a half marathon three days afterward.
I did not discourage that, even though I thought they might be pushing it a bit. I gave them the sage advice always given me; go out slow, get your heart rate up, stay steady, walk if you need to, don’t worry about your speed, etc. They wanted me to do the race with them but I had training scheduled. I did consider it to be honest, and in hindsight, I am glad I decided against it because if I was frustrated by just hearing the result I cannot imagine what my mindset would have been if I had been on the course with them.
Anyway, I did not see one of them the next day to ask how it went, but the marathoner came by my desk to let me know about their knee issues (it started hurting her around mile 7, which was probably due to the closeness of the races) and I asked how they got through it.
The less trained staff beat them.
Now, to explain, the marathoner ran the half in 2:20:00, so a pace of 10:40. So, if the other beat them they were running in the low 10:00 range.
Maybe I can just chalk it up to age? But they are not that much younger than me (I would guess in the 40 age range) … but here’s the thing … I know I train much more than they do, so why am I not seeing the results? How can people train sporadically and consistently outperform me on the course? Is it just something in me that holds me back from truly “hurting” while racing? Is it that lack of killer instinct that I speak about so much that doesn’t allow me to push to the pain breaking point and bust through it?
The next day I had a scheduled 4-mile run and decided to push as hard as I could through the run split, even if I had to walk some. I decided when I was running that I would run as fast as I could for as long as I could and not worry about my heart rate until I walked. It went great for the first mile, with one of my best first miles splits at 11:17. Then of course mile 2 and 3 were back to the old 14:00 range even with pushing as hard as I could. The last mile, as I have noticed lately, I get into a groove and was back in the 12-13 minute range, so the overall pace was 13:01. One of my best this year, but in comparison is 3:00 slower than my counterpart.
And the aftermath is the hard part for me. I have spoken about the “heavy running” issue before, but when I push like that I have a hard time running the next day. I was currently on a low week due to a race that weekend. My body just doesn’t handle back to back running well. Is this my age? Or is it the knee and joint issues I have had for years? I really don’t know for sure.
But, I know I will be out there swimming and be running, and biking. I’ll be out there every day, still hoping that at some point it all clicks and improvements are seen on a steady basis. I know that I cannot let up and go back to what I was and where I was heading. My race started in April of 1994 when I went into a doctor’s office in Orlando and was told I had cancer. I run this race every day, trying to extend the inevitable. I have been cancer free for a long time now, but I know from that experience how quickly that turns. I know how my grandfather was diagnosed in April of 1992 and was gone in November of the same year. I know how my step-father was diagnosed in October and was gone in January.
It can come out of the blue and take you fast, and some of that is out of your hands, and some isn’t. I just have to take care of what I can control and hope for the best.
All I ask from you, dear readers, and listeners of the podcasts, to not let me quit, to remind me that it’s only a competition with myself and that I will improve if I stick with it, even if it takes longer than I want it to.
My long goal is a full 140.6 race in my 55th year.