So, I recently completed a 10km race with a goal to finish under 60 minutes. I trained hard and was in a really good position to be able to make it.
On race day I felt confident, and strong. In the first 4km, I followed a guy who was keeping a very steady 6 min/km pace so I thought I’d follow him for a while. My plan was to run 6 min/km pace until the 8km mark, where I’d try to pick it up a bit.
At the 4km mark, the pacer started to walk, so I overtook and fell into a steady pace that felt good for me, but now I was checking my clock every few minutes to see how my pace was going. I was a slave to my watch and my splits, and I started seeing the splits get longer and longer, until I was running at a 6:20 min/km pace.
The last few kilometres were uphill with a strong salty headwind, making the going tough. I started to realise that my goal for sub 60 was slipping away. I picked up but was feeling exhausted and unable to keep up the pace.
This is the point at which my mind started to play tricks on me. I started questioning why I started running in the first place, thought that maybe I should give up running and find another way to stay fit, and worse of all, started to think that I should pull out of the race (at the 8km mark!).
The problem was, I wasn’t having fun. I decided to stop looking at my watch, and just run as well as I could for the next two kms. My pace picked up and I ended up running the 10kms in 61 minutes, only 1 minute off my goal!
After the race, I realised that I had run a personal best time for that distance, however I was still in a bit of a funk. I didn’t enjoy my runs for the next week.
Only after running a nice long 10 km run in the Adelaide hills a week later, I remembered why I run. I don’t run for pace, I don’t run to win.
I run because I love the feeling of being outdoors, I love to explore new places, I love the momentum, I love feeling like I can achieve something I never thought possible and I love that runners’ high that I get at the end.
I had forgotten to have fun that day, and that’s why it was so hard. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop participating in events, but I’ve realised that I’m not going to set myself time goals, as they get in the way of the fun.
From now on, I run races because I love to run.