Running: Under Pressure

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This Saturday I ran a timed 5km.  Shortly after finally being able to run pain free I was asked if I would like to take part in a 16week programme testing methods to build people’s 5km speeds.  I agreed as I knew my speed had decreased thanks to the dark days of injury and thought it would be an interesting experiment.

Before the start of the programme I did a timed 5km, and this Saturday, 16 weeks later, I took just under 2 minutes off that time.   HOORAY!  However, about 3 weeks ago I took part in another 5km run, just for a bit of fun, and actually ran that 30 seconds faster than this weekend’s run!  This fun run was late on a Sunday evening, it was not a flat, straightforward course, there were stairs and traffic yet I ran it 30 seconds faster than the clear, flat, runners only, route.

My thoughts on why, when all conditions (except for the pouring rain and mud) were perfect – PRESSURE!

Three weeks before, I signed up up to a fun 5km run around Tobacco Doc.  It was in the evening, it was dark and it was relaxed. Paulie and I set out just enjoying our new jazzy headphones and all the surprises that the route had in store – including a UV water station?!

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We weaved in and out of parked cars, dodged traffic, steadied ourselves round tight corners, went down sets of stairs and just enjoyed the views.  And yet with all of this I managed to do a 5km just 10 secs shy of my fastest ever!

I spent most of the night before this weekends “race” worrying about whether I would be able to achieve what I had set out to do.  I knew my pace had improved, a lot, but would I be able to repeat what happened a couple of weeks ago at the fun run?  I had done quite a lot of cycling during the week without meaning to and my legs felt heavy. I was worried, nervous and didn’t want to run but I kinda had to.  In the morning I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do what I had somehow done a few weeks ago and as soon as I set off I struggled.

I think head space has a lot to answer for when it comes to running, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind and went into my run with completely the wrong attitude.  Yes of course the wind, rain, puddles and mud will not have helped, but really I think I had just put too much pressure on myself and overthought the whole thing.  I don’t usually go into a race with such a huge intention of getting a PB, I race because I love running and just love that I can, but if anything this weekend has taught me that PBs are awesome but will will never be achieved if your head is not in the right place …. so just go out, smile and see what happens!

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