Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

90% Racing: Choosing to Give Less Than Everything

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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One response to “90% Racing: Choosing to Give Less Than Everything

  1. mark August 18, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Yes, I find as I get older, I have to pick and choose when I go all out. When I do, the number of rest days are longer, and I need to have some ‘rest’ in the bank to really hit the 100% mark

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