This is not going to be a post about nailing your pace.
This is not going to be a post about picking up your pace.
This is not going to be a post about judging your pace at all.
This is a post about accepting your pace, forgetting your pace, and enjoying the run.
I’ve had a lot of conversations with people recently. People who are frustrated because on their run, they ran .3 of a minute slower than they would have liked. People who are frustrated because they didn’t PR at a race. People who set paces for their runs and stress over following those paces religiously.
Now, I’m not knocking pacing. It’s an important talent to learn as a runner. And it’s good to challenge ourselves to get faster. If you want to get a certain time for a race, you do have to pay attention to pace.
However, what I was noticing was that – with these people and with myself – stress about pace was robbing them and myself of the pleasure of running. Rather than be happy for having gone out for a run, I would be mad at myself for taking an extra minute per mile.
This mindset doesn’t recognize the other factors that feed into your run. If you’re running after a long day, if you’ve got a slight twinge in your foot, if you’ve had a heavy lunch, if you’ve had a recent breakup, if it’s raining, if it’s hot, if work has been stressful…. so much factors into our run and our pace, not just our effort. Yes, we should try to overcome these obstacles, but so too should we recognize that we are humans living amongst changing circumstances.
This mindset also robs you of gratitude and celebration. You may have run slowly, but you ran. You had the time. You had working legs. You had the dedication to get out there and get your vitamin D (if you’re an outside runner) and your runner’s high endorphins.
I find myself having a good run until I look at my pace and start comparing myself to myself or others. So, instead, I’m going to forget my pace. I’m going to run with a mindset to push myself and to celebrate a love of running, but not to circumscribe myself to some number.
Funny thing is, on a recent race, the Hotlanta Half, when I allowed myself to stop stressing about pace, I actually PR-ed. But I would have had a good race without that PR. The PR was the icing on the cake, but the run was the cake.
Don’t forget your cake (and maybe forget your pace every now and again)!