When I first started running, I ran too fast and couldn’t keep it up for very long. As time passed, I read more, learned more and tried to understand the concept of pacing. I’m an all or nothing kind of person, so this concept didn’t come easily to me. I’m also a dancer. Dancers are great as sprinters but in general we do not excel at anything long distance. We can give it our all in a 4 minute routine to the point where we need to crawl offstage but ask us to maintain high intensity for longer than that and most of us will need bring in our understudy!
I ran my first 10km in November and truth be told I wasn’t really ready to do so. At that point I was not able to run a solid 10km without taking walking breaks. However I completed the race in an hour, walked at certain points when I had to and still loved every minute.
I also have zero patience for anything math related. So counting, calculating blah, blah, it all just puts me to sleep zzzzzz…. What I needed in order to properly understand pacing was to very simply learn to listen to my body. Not listen and ignore like I usually do but actually hear, listen, understand and comply.
Now that I am officially training for my first half and full marathon, I am taking this concept much more seriously. One of my short term goals this month was to figure out how to pace myself properly in order to run without stopping. I am happy to report that I have finally made significant progress! Today I ran 11km without stopping and progressively ran faster as I went. I was not out of breath and it wasn’t even that difficult. In fact at one point I realized my mouth was closed and I was still breathing through my nose! Yay!!!
As I approached my target distance, the feeling was exhilarating! By the end I was grinning like a Cheshire cat and people at the gym were staring at me wondering if I had run so much that I had officially lost my mind.
Finally! Finally, I have listened to my body and followed its lead.
Here are the 7 steps that helped me to run 11km without stopping:
- Start already warmed up (walk, stretch etc…be active and break a sweat for 10 minutes prior to starting the run)
- Start running but keep it slower than what feels comfortable 0-1km
- Maintain a slow to medium pace until it is no longer awkward but actually feels comfortable 1-3km
- Step it up a few notches but only enough to feel it slightly 3-6km
- Put on some motivating tunes, get competitive with myself and push into some serious running 6-8km
- Run as fast as I possibly can 8-10km
- Push to run even faster than I ever thought I could 10-11km
Step 4 is by far the hardest step mentally for me. This is the part when the little devil on my shoulder eating the bag of chips starts talking to me. Today wasn’t too bad though, I knew he was there but I didn’t give him too much attention. Every time my thoughts wandered over to that corner of my mind, I consciously changed the subject -new song, new focus etc…
After a couple of weeks of testing this method, I feel comfortable finally saying that I have achieved this month’s goal and I am ready to move on to start working on February’s goal of running 15km or more without stopping. I need to get to 21.1km for the half marathon and today I finally feel like it’s within reach! My body has shared a special secret with me and my mind has finally listened….it’s all about the pacing baby!
Happy running friends