Monday, March 21, 2011

Racing to Breakout of a Rut

I'd been struggling.  You may be thinking "whoah - you're a coach, how can you be struggling?"  It's true.  Coaches are people too.

I've been making some changes to my running stride - changes that will make me a better, injury free runner in the long run.  In the short term every run is a mental battle which becomes a physical battle.  If you've worked on changing your running stride you know what I mean.  If you haven't but have worked to change your swim stroke it's the same lost feeling only drier.

Thinking about an activity - mentally trying to engage your lower core and glutes actually raises your heartrate - with no increase in pace.  Thus each training run is more work than you think it should be.  That's where I've been for the past couple of weeks.

Last Saturday I ran in the Team Ortho Get Lucky 7k.  I was running it with TFI athlete HK.  She's generally a little faster than me and with the way I've been running lately she's much faster.  Great - an opportunity to embarrass myself in front of an athlete I'm coaching.

She (like all of us) tends to go out a little too fast.  We discussed running together for the first 2 miles so I could hold her back a bit (or a lot).  Then she could cut the strings and fly.

Nearing the end of the 7k (photo courtesy of Steve Stenzel)
At the start we seeded ourselves based upon our estimate pace and soon we were off.   Racing I didn't think about my stride, I just ran.  The first mile went by and we were ahead of the pace we discussed, but not by much.   I thought if I could hold that pace for the whole race I'd be happy.  The 2nd mile went by - same thing.  The 3rd mile was faster and at the 5k point, still running with HK, we cranked it up.  She outkicked me at the finish - "Go Girl!"

We built our pace through the whole race and passed over 2000 people (which is a fun way to run a race).

I ended up running 2 minutes faster than last year.  A time I thought I had no chance of repeating much less beating. 

All this work on my stride is paying off and it's refreshing to find that out.