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The Hare, The Tortoise and Pacing

Now that we know, from the earlier post, what Pace is..let us try to understand why this is so important on Race day.

Runners believe that in the parable of the Hare and the Tortoise the Tortoise won the race because it had a better pacing plan in place.

Most new runners, unfamiliar with pacing strategies, have a brilliant run plan. As soon as the gun fires, dart off like that legendary Hare. At Km 3- 4 catch your breath and start walking…then run again in km 10-11 walk mostly…and so on….and in the meanwhile there will be so many slower runners who would be steadily overtaking them. And even if their pride is hurt, their tired legs will leave them with no choice but to swallow it.

Does this sound like you heard this before? No..not in the parable..but possibly in your last run? Read on..all that can change with a change in your pacing strategy.

If you were like me..then all the training that I got to run was in school. It consisted of putting me, on sports day, at the start line of a 100 metre course without any training formalities other than white canvas shoes, blanco-ed the night before. When the PT teacher blew the whistle, you darted like crazy..preferably in the direction you were stood facing. All necessary instructions for enhanced performance came online and consisted of a repeated chant of ‘Run, run run’ from those enroute.

Now 30-40 years later, a tubbier version of that school kid, with graying temples stands on a similar start line. The accessories have changed this time. The plain tennis shoes have given way to colorful shoes that require an EMI plan. Shorts, Tees, head bands, hydration belt and HRM are the best that money can buy and color co-ordinated as well. Much like those colourful old cars that you see carrying the groom at baraats.

What a colourful car!!!

But the mental programming remains the same. And the only instruction received from the crowds lining the route is the same ‘Run run run’.

The big difference is that it is not 100 metres any more, but 210 times 100 metres a.k.a the Half Marathon. Faced with a similar situation the response is still the same. Run as fast as you can. Till you can run no more…which is about 3-4 kms down the road.

The above pretty much described me for the first 3-4 Half Marathons, until I started reading and learning that endurance running was different from sprinting. I also gathered that running was different from jogging..but that is another post altogether.  My knowledge when put into practice resulted in my improved timings.

I learnt that in an endurance event the winner is not one who runs the fastest, but rather one who slows down the least.

Wearing my managerial hat, I can say that if all the training that you did is your potential, then pacing determines your strategy to execute to that potential.

Wearing my mentoring hat, I can say that  Pacing will determine whether you are a greenhorn start up with a high volatility of earnings or your business delivers the numbers, km by km :-)

It can determine whether you are going to be the hare or the tortoise in that race.

Interesting? Watch this space….next in series…”The rubber meets the road” OR How to determine your Race Pace?


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