I have always been prideful to head out the door to knock out miles and all sorts of weather by myself. Doing that builds my base all year round. Not always the fastest miles but miles in general.
Over the past year, I have noticed that my best performances are in the numbers. Meaning when I'm in a group or a race setting with others, I step up my performance. The first time I noticed this was when I was in an 8k race on the very same trail I use for weekly training runs. Usually I run along at an 8 minute range. Well this time was different, I covered the 8k in 32 minutes (a low 6 minute pace.) Chasing down as many high school runners was my goal and pushed me harder. That told me I have been holding back on my training way too much. The next time I noticed a difference in my performance was about a few weeks later, I ran a mile in 4:54. The pacer on the bike was the key to this performance. A few months earlier I had just set a new mile pr on the track in 5:19. Having the pacers encouragement and guidance helped me shave that additional 25 seconds off my time.
There have even been some group runs where I just hung tight when the pace quickened down to a 6 minute mile pace. Knowing if I was solo, those same runs would have been between 7:15 and 7:30 pace. Much is said to training with others and especially with ones that are faster.
Now I have a personal trainer for strength training. She pushes me to muscle fatigue on a daily basis. She told me the other day what a normal client does in an hour, we complete in a 30 minute session. I have tried to mimic her workouts on my own and come nowhere close to the same results. Again the strength of someone pushing more from me than I can in a solo performance.
Looking back at 2009-2011 I ran as a pace group leader for several marathons. Now i hope that the runners I paced were able to get further because of my help. Not all of them made it to the finish line with me. Some I went back to find to bring back in to the finish. While others eventually powered themselves in without me in the later miles.
Knowing I have a competitive side when it comes to running I am seeing the root cause of my abilities lies in the strength of numbers. Meaning the company I run with and race. To all my friends that run with me, people that have paced me, or groups I have ran with and the competition from races. I just want to say thanks for making me a better runner.
|No Frills 5 Mile|
|Pushing to an 8th place overall finish|