Pace & PRs

I rarely, if ever, publish my paces, assigned or actual.

In yoga, we set intentions for a practice, and my runs are the same.

Pace is rarely the primary intention (or goal), but pace is a funny thing. People latch on to it, like finish times, as the easy indicator of a run’s success or a runner’s ability.  And it’s tempting, it attracts the ego and left unchecked the ego may distract you from your true intentions (or goals) for a particular run.

This is how I chose my training plan as well, each run has a particular purpose (or intention, or training objectives), which means my assigned paces, over the course of training, will range from a sub-7:00 min/mile up to a 12:00 min/mile; I prefer running with a purpose to doing roughly the same pace every day for however many miles or hours.

But I also have a very Type A ego, and let me tell you, those Type A egos, they do not like 12:00 min/miles. To the Type A ego, the 12:00 min/miles are not sexy. The Type A ego acknowledges the 12:00 min/mile as a respectable starting point, a place to work from, but the Type A ego will never truly be happy saying, “Yes!! I finished today’s 5k in 36:30!!” Never ever would that happen.

Let’s say, I successfully complete a run assigned to be one of the higher paces, but my ego, naturally, would prefer the status update say a lower, faster pace, so then I’m tempted to just do the run at the faster pace because I can, and if I do, then I’ve abandoned the intentions for that run and I have failed.

Or, I finish my speed work with a 5k time of 21:47, but I want a nice long cool down as well — the Type A ego starts whispering “but then your average pace will be so much slower!! that pace is amazing!! stop now so you have this outrageous statistic to share!!” NO, ego, I want to fucking run two more miles, and I want to enjoy them. I want to be able to walk in  heels when I meet my girlfriends at the bar tonight. LEAVE ME ALONE.

So I remove the temptation.  I simply do not publish or share my paces.

The ego is a very strong distractor.

I feel the same about finish times, they are good data to collect and setting a goal finish time is an important step to defining a training plan. But for me, they do not reflect whether a race was a success. Did I finish? Did I have fun? Was I nice to the volunteers and other racers? Was I mindful of the physical and mental processes throughout the race?

I’ve signed up for both the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon and the San Francisco Marathon in 2013, they are 14 days apart. San Francisco is the second, and notoriously hilly.  So do I care what my finish times for these two races are? No. I care whether I safely and mindfully complete both races before their cutoffs. If San Francisco takes 6 hours and 20 minutes (that’s about an average pace of 14:30 min/mile, btw), then so be it. If I finish, have fun and can still walk after then I’ve achieved my goals.

PRs are fun, but for me, they are not the point.  So I rarely, if ever, publish or share my finish times either. In this internet age, they are essentially public record anyway, if someone really wants to know my “official” chip times they can find them, just not here or facebook* or twitter.

*UPDATE 12/30/12: since this was originally written, I started sharing my pace when I share an “indoor” workout to facebook, because sharing the pace creates a pretty graph to make up for the fact that indoor workouts obviously don’t produce a pretty, shareable map. Two weeks later, there was an update to the app which creates a nice mileage history graph when you share an indoor workout, even without sharing pace, so I’ve since returned to not regularly sharing my paces.

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