Pacing myself: How to find today’s speed

The steady sound of the rain was slightly disturbing. First off, it’s December 21 and Buffalo, N.Y. should be getting snow, not rain. Second, there was an easy 10K run on my schedule today and the thought of 6-plus miles on the treadmill was wholly uninspiring. Yet oddly, the thought of running in the rain started to feel pretty good. In fact, as I sipped my coffee I started to feel a sense of joy about getting to run this morning. Yeah. Didn’t see that one coming.

With temperatures in the mid-40s and no real wind, the weather was actually pleasant. I trotted along at my easy pace, but felt really good. Turns out, I finished the 10K right around the same clip as my tempo run last week. Huh. Didn’t see that one coming either.

It's not always about speed, but effort and attitude.

Pacing is an important recurring theme in training. In some ways, I find it’s a skill you have to learn and one that can be extremely personal. Conventional wisdom says to start endurance races slow and build so you have a kick at the end but some have become champions going out hard at the start and holding on at the end. And personally I still have trouble finding my pace in the pool as the combination of speed and technique seems to merge mysteriously in my lane.

I thought about pacing during my run in the rain. After all this was an easy run, so pace didn’t matter. Effort did. And because I focused on my effort and attitude, my run felt amazing. Sometimes we get caught up in pacing, thinking that we need to always go fast to get better, that being busy is equal to being productive. This is not a lesson in slowing down, in going easy, in resting. (Which, by the way, I am all for. Mental health days were cherished in my family.) It’s a lesson in embracing the work, the day, the life that is presented to you. It’s about making the most of this day, not judging it by yesterday or using it solely as a platform for tomorrow.

My pace? It changes from day to day, heck sometimes from hour to hour. And my pace today is strong, steady and smooth. It’s enjoyable. It’s making me feel alive. And that feels great, even in the rain.

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