Training for pace, is it toxic?

I’m training for an Ultramarathon. I’m currently having leg discomfort. 

If things go well for me in the next few days, 

I will be finishing my 1st Ultra (50km), in the next 9 days (Feb 25th 2024).

It took me quite a while to get here. I started running to have joy and at that time having a good pace sounded cool. 

I chased for it in many events. 

Somewhere I started feeling I’m being lost on why I started running. 

It wasn’t evident where I lost track, I started reflecting back now.

The big problem about passionate groups is that little things can get toxic for many while everyone says – don’t care about them.

In the startup community, people say chase customers and yet most of us chase to raise funds. In book reading it could be a number of books that can intimidate new readers. In running I feel it’s the Pace that gets its toxicity.

Oh you have great pace. What’s your timing today? I’m not happy today, I got a cramp and lost my timing, did not do great.

We let one random day define our mood at least for a few days.

We all run for joy. 

I don’t see any reason why someone would get up early, follow a certain lifestyle, pay money to run at different places, distances and times. All this, if it’s not for joy.

If it’s passion and the feeling of joy we run for. 

Why then, no one asks. 

How did your run make you feel today? 

I’m not saying not to ask about pace, but when we do this for joy. 

How did the run make you feel? 

What did you think of your run today?

Did you enjoy the run?

Did you give your best’.

These are questions, at least one or two of them should be asked so keep reminding ourselves and others that the main importance is to know how it made us feel that day and should be our guiding metric.

I am not saying focusing on joy will always make you feel good, nor am I saying to not focus on pace.

I think feeling bad not giving your best is way better than feeling back because you missed a certain number. At some point, I feel chasing a number may get toxic because it may or may not be in your control. I also see it may make you compare with others, which again isn’t a great thing.

Because, your physiology, your past experiences, current lifestyle demands, your mood, climate and how your body reacts that day are very different for everyone. And yet, we make comparisons that don’t help anyone or make any sense even to compare.

With all this said and done,

After some self-reflection, I found (my own)  two reasons why I should run faster

  1. I experienced this in TMM. I did realise that, after 30km, I know I slowed down and could not hit my 4:45 hours goal and then I gave up pushing myself as a 4:55 hour is the same as a 5:15 or a 5:25 goal. I believed it and I was totally wrong.

In Ladakh, I DNFed , walked most of the race and finished it in 7:40 hours. But it gave me more confidence and Joy and while my 5:07 hours TMM did not. Why is that?

I realized I did not give my best that day, my mind took over and gave me a bullsh*t story and I brought that story like a child without questioning it.. 

So it’s not about the pace but giving my best that day. Whatever pace it is, is an outcome.

2. I have a strong drive to do ultras(this year and going forward). I feel like I’m not even 5% there yet on what my mind and body can do. Currently my mind wants to stay for longer on the ground. But my body isn’t ready for the distances I want to do.

I know speed runs will help me improve my lactate threshold. As in, my fatigue levels will kick in late than early. So improving the physiology is a big variant to improve if I want to do those Ultras.

So with a clash between pace and joy, here is how I decided(and working on) to make peace with:

  1. There are good runs days and bad run days
  2. Be consistent
  3. Whether it is strength, a practice run, or a race day, I just want to give my best for that day.

As Bill Welsh said – Focus on the process the score takes care of itself.


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