When I first started running marathons, the challenge was a personal one. It was about improving my fitness, and working on my body’s rhythms towards better health and fitness. It is also how most of the runners I know entered the sport – either they needed to overcome the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, or having received a rude wake-up call in the form of a health scare, they decided to do something about it.
Once we overcome that first obstacle of becoming regular with our training (getting out of bed is the hardest thing that 1st week!) then the next challenge is to better our timing. To reach our Personal Best – PB. That’s what my goal was for the first 7-8 years, continuous improvement of my Personal Best.
Scrolling through my Facebook timeline, I recently rounded up all my race timing posts.
So where did I stand this year?
Well, this year – my 8th successive Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) – represented a change of ‘pace’ for me. I highlight the word ‘pace’ because this year I practiced Pace Running. I would have to say I have evolved into a pace runner, and I would trace it like this:
In running, pace is usually defined as the number of minutes it takes to cover a kilometre. Pacing isn’t something we instinctively do when we run, it takes training. Pacing helps conserve energy in marathons, and training for it involves learning what your goal-pace feels like in your legs, in your gut and in your head. It’s about your muscles internalizing and memorizing that pace.
I’d of course, been observing and joining in on others’ pace running during my previous marathons. Different levels of energy in ‘bus’ after ‘bus’, reflecting the energy and pace set by the bus-driver.
A ‘bus’ is a group of runners who run at a specified pace, with the intention of finishing the race in a specified time. And their leader – the ‘bus-driver’ – heads up the bus (by verbally spurring group runners)
I was feeling I’d reached my ‘What Next?’ moment last year, when the idea of trying to lead a bus on my own crossed my mind. From practice runs and discussions with running buddies, I worked out that I would run the 2017 half marathon for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) at a target time of 1h 59m. At a total length of 21.097 kms to a half-marathon, that meant setting a pace of roughly 10.6 km/hr or more for the entire stretch.
On the Wednesday before the SCMM, I published my 1h 59m goal on my Facebook timeline and called for others to join my ‘bus.’ I wanted ten runners at most, looking to meet a sub-2hour PB. Leading a pace for a bus is a team endeavour. So that post was a promise to myself and the runners who would join me.
Even though ten runners joined me on the day when we set off, a few minutes later, only three remained. The weather turned towards warm and humid as the day wore on, and at the 9km mark, just one runner accompanied me – the others having left the bus to take up a different pace as per their capabilities. Even though it was just the two of us, I felt great sharing my energy to keep us both going and felt a great deal of accomplishment completing my responsibility of maintaining a steady pace compatible to specific sections of the race so as to achieve the time we did.
My bus-mate and I met our 1h 59m target, and I was also successful at repeating the pace at the Hiranandani Thane Half Marathon 2017—proving to myself that the first success at SCMM was not a flash in the pan. Spurring someone else to reach a shared goal is a wonderful combination of leadership and teamwork, and resulted in a great sense of satisfaction.
I have answered now my ‘what next?’ when it comes to running.
And as with every step in my evolution as a runner, my personal mantra remains, ‘It is never about ‘Race day’, it is who you become while you practice.’Life’s Good! God’s Kind !!