Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What does a PR feel like?


Here is how Eric described his PR at a trail race:

One my favorite training books is The Self-Coached Runner by Allan Lawrence and Mark Scheid. What I like about it so much is the way they augment the solid technical material with inspirational stuff like this (from Chapter 4):

For most of us, this stage [the separation of the effort and the perception of effort] will remain merely theoretical, and we will have to be content with relaxation and controlled release of energy. But, if you race enough and not too much, there will be a race or two in your career in which you will glimps something like the elite runner's dissociation, and you will be able to run faster than you have ever run over a given distance, and it will feel easy.

When it happens, remember as much of it as you can, because you will run that race in your mind's eye for the rest of your life.

Today was the day.

And here is how Boris described his 5km track PR:

Eventually, though, I got myself to start running, but none of that feeling of speed and lightness from interval sessions ever came. I struggled to breathe well, and my legs felt pretty heavy. After one lap, I thought I'd never finish, as I was in pain and already a second off the target pace. As the laps went along, I was still feeling bad, but nothing seemed to be getting worse. With a lap and a half to go, I realized I had a shot, and tried to pick it up. The last 200 meters was not a pretty sight, as I was wheezing and making all sorts of horrid noises, and running as fast as I could.

Eric was able to "run faster,...and it will feel easy"

Boris started off and felt like he'd "never finish...still feel bad...not a pretty sight...wheezing and making all sorts of horrid noises."

Both had good races, but Eric's sounds like a more pleasant experience.

I've had days that felt something like Eric's. I've felt like I was flying along, everything felt fast and easy. But at the end, my time wasn't good. When I've had good times, I've always felt a lot more like Boris. I've felt like I was working, working, working.

Maybe someday I'll have one of those days like Eric's. It'd be nice.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:18 PM


IMO, a 5k and maybe even a 10k is too short to "feel easy" -- for me anyway. They are run too close to the anaerobic zone. More often than not, a good 5k time is run while feeling like being on the verge of blowing up from mile 1 on.

I've had that "feel easy" feeling in 15k -> half-marathon races. They are short enough that you feel like you are running fast, but you are going slow enough to enjoy it.

In longer races I can have that same feeling during the middle of the race. But it is eventually replaced by the aches and pains from the pounding endured by the length of the run.

ps "Runner's high" is overblown and overrated. If you feel that good, run harder. :-)
Dissociation and "runners high" are two very different things. Most of my PR's have felt a lot more like Boris', particularly in the early going. I agree that it takes at least 15 minutes to get into this state, so it's not too likely in a 5K.
I have only one PR that has stuck in my mind over the years, a 3 mile qualification run in the service. I'd tried to break 18 minutes all through high school and could never shave the last 10-20 seconds off. The final qualification I took in boot camp I ran like I was two feet above the ground. It was absolutely effortless. I ended up beating one of my drill instructors for the first time that day. I used him to pace me and then passed at the finil sprint. After the race he congratulated me and related that he had misapplied some icy hot which had got up in his shorts. He didn't realize his error until mile one and was pressing the pace to end his suffering sooner. That was over 25 years ago and I can still remember how effortlessly I ran. It reminded me of hitting the sweet spot on a golf club. Ting! Nice and easy.
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