Running Fast(er) vs. Running Slow(er)

This year I did my first Turkey Trot, I think ever but there’s a chance growing up we did one. In Columbus there was this run called “The Dam Run” (Hoover Dam) and we did it a few times as a family but don’t recall if it was on Thanksgiving. And, no, I don’t want to Google it to find out–I want it to remain a mystery. It was lots of fun and I loved the ability to pseudo-swear and say Dam in front of my parents as a kid.

In fact, I still do. Dam. Dam. Dam. Damdada, DamdeDa DamdadadaeedededDAM!

Moving on…

In the last month I’ve “run”  in two races in over 20-years. On Sunday December 2nd, I’m running the Sacramento Marathon. It’s my third attempt to finish a marathon, the other two I trained (and paid! :)) for, but a really nagging Achilles and Patellar tendonitis prevented me from even making it to race day on either. So these two runs in the last month were part of my training regimen for the Sac Marathon, and I wanted to shake out some of my nerves.

On on this Thanksgiving race, I had this really cool physical manifestation about how running with certain groups can be such a great comparison for teams of people.

Two weeks ago I ran a half marathon, and I paced myself moderately well and finished running the 13.2 miles @ an 8:50 pace per mile. This is probably an average-ish pace. As I’m running the last mile I’m probably at a 7:30 pace and passing tons of people. No big deal, and I wasn’t trying to pass tons of people, I just was trying to finish at a better clip. But I was in a crowd of decent runners who were really starting to stagger towards the end. And there were few group dynamics to push through to the end. Just my own dynamics. Which was/is fine.

So this Thursday, I’m running a 10k (6.2 miles) and I decided to try to pick it up a bit and run with more aggressive runners and try to finish at a sub 7:30 pace. I started at a 7:38 pace, and ended the race by averaging a 7:20 pace for the full 10k. And once again, if you’re a runner, this still isn’t fast. The last mile I felt pretty solid and picked it up to run about a 6:45 pace. But here’s the funny thing, though I’d really picked it up the last mile as I’d done in the prior race, in this one I could barely pass anyone…because I was now among better runners. And they’re all pushing hard, and each other, and it caused our entire pack to speed up. It sounds silly, but at a certain point there was this group energy that just carried our informal pod of runners that were clumped together. Which also made it more difficult to slow down.

And as I’m running, it really dawns on me that this is such a physical manifestation of the difference between teams of people in business. In the really good teams, the group dynamics make the individual performance better. And the irony is, that the individual performance also gets easier, because there’s this group-dyanmic-force-shield-of-sorts that helps each person out as well. Nothing profound here, but I wanted to capture it on a blog post for myself if nothing else. (as an aside: for anyone reading this who is a walker or runner, this isn’t about whether you should run faster or slower, or if you’re in XYZ pace or whatever. I think all fitness goals are personal–do what works. And keep doing it).

So in the last mile of the race, four things are going through my head: man, I’m tired, I love this Mos Def power song, this last mile is an interesting business metaphor let me dissect the ways, and I really hope I can finish the Sacramento marathon. Regarding that last one, one week from tomorrow I’ll know.

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2 Replies to “Running Fast(er) vs. Running Slow(er)”

  1. 🙂 Thanks, if I can get to 25 then at least I can crawl to the finish. I’m a little jittery about 20-25, wishing I’d trained a lot more!

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