This past weekend I completed my fourth half marathon, but my first in over 2 years.
I went into the race with 4 weeks training, having missed out on training from mid-January to mid-March due to injury. So I was probably under-prepared. :) But that also meant that I was running without any pressure; I didn't train hard or long enough to have a concrete goal or expectation of myself. I just wanted to finish the race without being completely dead.
I started the race feeling good, but soon found myself being pulled into running a much quicker pace than I wanted to run (due to everyone else's adrenaline and excitement). At times I was literally running more than a minute / kilometre quicker than the pace I had trained at and I knew that I had not trained enough to keep that up over 21km's. There was no way I could finish the race this way.
During the race, I started thinking about my personal best quite a bit. What did it even mean to me and what did it mean in the context of the race I was running?
This got me thinking about the other things that I do in my life - both professionally & personally - where I allow myself to be pushed & pulled out of my comfort zone. Sometimes that's a good thing, but sometimes it just feels like I'm running someone else's race in their way at their pace.
Why do I do that? I dunno. Human nature I guess.
For one, I know that I want to feel relevant, which means I sometimes do things and make decisions that would help me stay relevant in the eyes of my peers.
I also sometimes make decisions to be diplomatic or to avoid conflict. And the cherry on the cake (ironically) is when I make the kind of decisions because "I think it's the right thing to do" and when "I only have the best intentions at heart".
When I do these things, I'm not running my own race.
If you know me, you'll know I'm not a selfish person at all and I'm not advocating that. Neither am I advocating any kind of narcism here. :)
I do however believe that there are some (personal) decisions we should never compromise on. For those decisions, we should focus on our personal best and running our own race, our way and at our own pace.
Back to my race.
During those first couple of kilometres I allowed myself to be pulled into something that I didn't want to be pulled into. I was exceeding myself and I allowed the runners around me to push my pace out of my personal comfort zone. I definitely wasn't running my own race.
It took me until about 8km's into the race before I finally settled into a more comfortable pace, which I felt I could keep going until the end. After the halfway mark, I started to feel really great and I actually managed to push on quite a bit.
See, when I eventually settled into my own rhythm and remembered that "my personal best" was all that mattered (and that's how I could win this race), I ran like I've never run before.
I went, from a race I doubted I could finish, to smashing my previous personal best by 13 minutes.
Whose race are you running?