I was a mile into this 5k race and to say I was on the struggle bus was an understatement. I was trying so hard to pace with others around me but I just couldn’t seem to hit my stride. People were passing me left and right and the girl in front of me seemed to keep getting further and further ahead-was she running faster or was I going slower?
Between the pollen and focusing on other’s paces, all the running I had been doing for the past month didn’t seem to make a difference. It wasn’t until the 2.5 mile mark I let everything else go. I got lost in my own race, pace, thoughts, and focused on my own stride, lengthening it out to my more normal cadence rather than the choppy race pace I had set. The last half mile flew by and with ease, I glided into the finish line. I was done.
I was driving home reflecting. Frequently, I struggle hard when I race but during my normal runs, set a strong pace that feels natural. Why is there such a difference?It was an easy answer for a lesson I had already learned in high school. In cross country, I had periodically run with a pacer. A pacer is someone that teaches you to control your pace so you don’t come out of the gate sprinting, helps you hit the stride you’re best at, and have energy left for a strong sprint finisher. I had always been horrible at pacing, letting other racers and adrenaline affect my outcome. I was too focused on how others were doing, trying to do it their way, I lost sight of everything I had been working on and training for.
Then I thought about my life outside of races. I realized I’m incredibly guilty of doing the exact same thing. I look around at the pace that everyone else is at and try to match it, regardless of if it’s the right thing for me or not. See someone ahead of me? I’ll push myself beyond what is comfortable to try to catch up, sometimes succeeding, sometimes, not.
Other times, I look behind me, seeing others taking a slower pace so I too, will enjoy a lull, even though what was right for me was to keep pushing on.
They say to “take the blinders off” and see what is going on. I would argue I need to put the blinders back on. Not getting distracted by the shiny race cars next to me but running the race that is marked out for me. The individual race marked out for me, not for anyone else, not a pace others have set, but my race, my pace.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”