Being Hyper-Competitive…

1 03 2011
Hello, my name’s Iain, and I’m a bit over competitive. Sometimes.
It was some time ago that I was first came accross the concept of Secret Man Racing, it rang true with me then as clearly as it did today… While I was walking to the station this morning (950m, 13m descent) I glanced over my shoulder as I approached a bus stop (It may be lazy to get a bus less than 1km, but it’s kind of early so I’ll take an easier and faster option if available) and there was a chap gaining on me in tan brogues and a beige suit.
“No way fella, today’s my day”.
At this point I changed gear, well changed cadence, and focussed on the roadworks ahead. If I can beat him to the roadwords I was confident I was going to be able to press on through to the station, there’s a slight rise there and a couple of bottlenecks, so long as I was ahead it was going to be OK. I made it, I pushed on to the petrol station, round the corner towards the station and he was there.
“WHAT? HOW? Just… HUH?”
Where had I lost it? He must have a better route than me! How could this be. He wasn’t much ahead of me but when I increased my pace a bit further it was a struggle. I considered a jog, but that would be against the SMR rules. He was caught behind a pram, I made a cunning tack across the road and crossed the line to hear him slow in disappointment while I (mentally) lifted my arms in celebration and got some high fives from the barrier attendents.
Actually, I carried slightly too much momentum into the barriers and then had to mess around with my Oyster Card after walking into the barriers expecting it to let me through.
But enough of this frivolity about me, what’s the point of this…?
Pacing. I struggle with pacing, because I get carried away with the competition. Darryl (my coach) gives me these specific instructions based around pace and heart rate, but I struggle and get a bit carried away and then the end of the session is a whole world of hurt. I know I can’t do this when it comes to the IronMan, it’s time to race my own race – if (when) I get passed by someone on the bike I can’t chase them down I have to learn to keep to my pace.
The strange thing is I have historically been better at doing it in races than I have in training. I had the same problem in training for the London to Brighton Ultra Marathon, but on race day I paced myself well to the extent that, even though I’d added 4 miles to the route, the last few miles were some of my fastest and I passed groups of people who had pushed too hard early in the race (race report here, if you’re bored; it’s quite long), this was excessive pacing, but a good learning experience.
So what am I worried about if I can pace better on the day? I worry about missing out on the training of certain energy systems in my body by not training at the specified paces, but I get carried away. I worry that long runs suffer towards the end because I tried to pass the guy with huge calf muscles running through Wandsworth Park (this may have happened!) I need to keep focussed, if at the end of the run I’m feeling good that is the time to let fly. A while ago I was sent an e-mail from Peak Performance On Line which opened with
The most important virtue you can have is patience
Patience and Focus, and it’ll all come together – after all, “we become what we do”, right? On that note I’d best get back to my spreadsheets…