90% Racing: Choosing to Give Less Than Everything
August 18, 2012 1 Comment
Give everything you have and more. 110%. That is what I have always been told. That is what I have always tried to do. This is especially true on race day.
Unfortunately, I can’t always give 100%. I’ve been a little bit sick for a very long time – 5 months. I have good days and bad days. Most of the time, giving 100% today means resting up for a few days. If I try to give 110% when I am having a sick day, however, it may mean easing up for at least a week. Thankfully, I have managed to manage my illness and still train fairly hard. I have to settle for giving 90%. I can still make progress at that level, it is just a lot slower.
Today’s race was an example of a 90% effort. I promised my son that I would run the Butterfly Fund 5K with him today, even though it is not a goal race. My next goal race is the Hal Canfield Memorial Mile. On that day, I will give it 110%. This morning I had to settle for 90%.
I was afraid of going out too fast, but thankfully my car keys jumped out of my pocket just after the start. That never happens. I think it was a sign: “Stay slow and only give 90%” Message received. It kept me from going out too fast. I ran quickly, but not as hard as I thought I could. After going back to pick up my keys, I had the added challenge of weaving through the crowd of slower runners that had passed. There was not enough room to run too fast. I gradually picked my way through the crowd. Unlike what I would have done otherwise, I felt no panic about the loss of time going back for the keys. I felt good about taking it a little easier than usual.
I felt reasonably strong. I was going fast, but not too fast. Gradually about half of the runners around me started to fade away. They had been giving 110% from the beginning and could not keep it up. Yes, that is usually me. <looking at the floor with a sheepish grin>
Today was different. I was running within my limitations. Today I was choosing not to try for a PR, but just to give a good effort. 90% feels pretty good. I was relaxed and happy. I was out for a nice tempo run and just happened to be wearing a race number.
I continued giving about 90% effort the rest of the way. When I finished, I finished strong, but not with an all-out sprint. I gave it just enough effort to pass a couple of people. After the finish, I was not wiped out like I would usually be. I was still energized and ready to go. What a difference!
So many times in the past I have planned to go out slow and not take a race so seriously. Each time that I reached the start line, however, I found it difficult to contain the energy. It is difficult to do anything else but that for which I was trained: 110%
Now that I know what it feels like to give 90% and finish happy, maybe it will be easier to do that when I am not sick. I want to race more frequently, but you can’t train for them all. Some of those races have to serve as training runs. Some have to be 90% runs that happen to be at a race. If I can plan these and follow through as planned, I will be happier and wiser.
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