May 8th 2017
Today I set a new 5km personal best. On the first (non-bank-holiday) Monday of every month, my work’s running club hosts a semi-competitive 5k race. I say ‘semi’ because it’s only really competitive at for the runners at the slower end of the spectrum, because the run is not ‘scored’ on who can run the fastest, but who can beat their PB by the most.
Today I came fifth, meaning that out of the 32 runners I beat my previous PB by the fifth-most amount of time. My previous PB for that course was 25:32, and I ran it in 23:30 today – although this course is actually closer to 5.4km, and within that my my fastest 5km time was 22:14. Which is also a personal best.
The thing that has held me back in 5km races previously is my pacing. I can easily run a 4:30 minute kilometre, but the trick is doing five of them consecutively. Today I nailed the pacing.
There’s a well known phenomena in running known (by me at least) as ‘The fucking Fourth Kilometre’. In a five kilometre race the fourth kilometre (as in between 3 and 4, not 4 and 5) is always the most difficult. For me, the fourth kilometre is always the slowest. It’s probably partly a mental thing and partly a physical thing. It’s the point your body starts to tire, and you start to naturally slow down as the pain starts to take over. But then when you pass into the last kilometre you find a bit of strength, and can push on again between 4 and 5.
In previous races it has been what has let me down – but not today.
Today, somehow, the fourth kilometre was my fastest one. And my pacing was good. My standard deviation from the mean was -4, +5, +4, -9, +6. Which isn’t bad at all. Usually I’ll aim for 4:30s and get 4:17, 4:26, 4:47, 4:50, 4:20.
But today it was just… better. I’ve been a little demotivated by running recently, so it’s encouraging to see that I’m actually progressing somewhat. I realised that I should stop focusing on what other people are capable of, and start judging myself on what I am capable of.
I get annoyed when I play badly at golf, but not because I’ve not done as well as the person I’m playing, but because I’ve not done as well as I know I can do. And that’s moreso where I’m heading with running. If I can learn to just focus on beating myself, then I’ll be able to beat everyone else. Right?
Until tomorrow, eventually, maybe…