Monday, July 12, 2010

Comparisions: Good or Bad?

I've been thinking a lot about comparisions lately. Runners, as a group, do this a lot, with the desire to set PRs at distances or on particular courses. We compare our times on races, and we also compare ourselves against each other. It's part of the competitive nature of sports that have a measure (like time or score) attached to it. Numbers talk.

One of the interesting things about running, though, especially for those of us at or near the back of the back, known in some circles as Pengiuns, is that even when I'm encouraged to "run against myself," it's hard not to compare myself to others, and sometimes it's discouraging! I've heard other "Penguins" feel this way too.

That being said, I love running, and I want to improve. I've been thinking lately, though, where's the line between "healthy hobby" and "this is work, like another job!" My improvements this year have been imcremental at best, sometimes nonexistant thanks to  injuries, a hilly course, or a hotter-than-usual day. Sometimes, after my long runs, I think I should've pushed the pace a little harder. While I'm out there on Saturday mornings, though, I'm thinking, "This is my time to exercise and relax, darn it!" I don't worry much about my long run pace until after I've gotten home and hooked up my Garmin to the computer.

So, I've been thinking about things I can do to take things up a notch for improvement. The heat of the summer might not be the best time to compare times, but I do have last summer's times and distances to compare. My coach has me building my long run mileage up a little more slowly than I did last summer, so maybe it is a good time for me to working on pacing a little bit. I asked my coach about long run pacing, and she said not to worry about it. Easier said than done! :)

In my quest to get faster, I'm working on my weight, and have bought some new songs for my iPod. Now, I think I'll come up with a list of mantras. My training schedule is one thing that's pretty set, thanks to the running coach, who I'm happy with. She does leave the upper body weight training up to me, though, and I haven't done a good job of being consistent with that.

What are some things you've done that have resulted in improvements in running?


Becka said...

I really struggle with this. I run with both of my sisters, and they are both substantially faster than I am. The first few races we all did together were tough. I really didn't like being "last" all the time. Now I'm just happy to improve on my OWN times.

Johann said...

I never worry about others and never compare myself with others. Maybe I did years ago when I started running. I now go back in my logs sometimes to see what I did at certain times in the past when training for specific races. I don’t compare times, but rather how I trained for races that went well or where something went wrong.

Lesley said...

Hmm, I'm beginning to think I just need to get an attitude adjustment and just concentrate on my training, as well as other things that contribute to healthy running (shoes, sleep, eating right, etc.).

Thanks for the comments, Johann and Becka!

Skylar Masey said...

I think it's hard for penguins to completely run within ourselves, since we do see all those people in front of us crossing the line. But the mind set goes along with your goals. Are you there to show what you've worked on? Are you there to set your own PR? Are you there to just have fun? And no, these aren't mutually exclusive, just a way to guage how to focus. This is coming from someone who has been the faster and slower of a pair :0)

As for what's helped me...building my upper body and core work. I also worked on my stamina over longer distances, then when I leveled off with a fairly consistant time I started mixing in speed work. Nutrition to be healthy and to lose weight is a huge plus!


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