I recently had a conversation with someone who was bothered by the time she achieved on a 5k run. It was her PW: personal worst. When you think about it though, there are so many factors that contribute to each and every run that the times may sometimes say little more than how you were doing on that particular day. Next time you come in last place on your own scale, think about all the factors that contribute to your run and try not to get discouraged when you fall behind your PR. After all, you are running, which is a huge accomplishment in itself, and you’re probably running for a very worthy cause. A big pat on the back!
Some of the many factors that determine the speed of your run are:
1. Weather: anything from temperature to humidity levels to wind intensity all affect speed and stamina.
2. Shoes: if they’re not properly fitted, older or even brand-new, the shoes you wear running impact your comfort level and ability to speed.
3. Posture: some days may be better than others. I know that if I don’t mentally check in with my shoulders, abs, ankles and foot bottoms, I don’t run as well.
4. Breathing: holding breath or taking too short of breaths can sometimes knock the stamina right out of you.
5. Outfit: is your sports bra too loose; are your polyester shorts trapping too much heat; are your socks rubbing; do your ipod ear buds keep falling out of your ears? Some attire nuisances are bothersome enough to slow you down.
6. What you’ve eaten: Whether you hit the taco bar the night before or skip breakfast on race day, what you do or don’t put into your body can either fuel it or slow it down.
7. Exertion in the days preceding: There is a reason for tapering just as there’s reason for building endurance. If you don’t follow the guidelines, you’ll feel it.
8. Terrain: Each race takes you from one city or route to the next, and none are the same. Obviously hills and rougher roads are going to chip a few minutes off your best time.
9. Sleep patterns: if you don’t sleep well in the days before the race, you’re probably going to run out of steam. Sleep is essential for healing and energy. Skip the shut-eye and you’ll probably fall behind.
My message to you is: Kudos for taking up running and supporting local charities! And don’t be so hard on yourself when your strides don’t meet your version of personal perfection. There are so many elements that factor into your pace that it’s best if you just take in the sights and sounds and enjoy yourself!