finishing strong and other things that are overrated

So there’s thing in running about finishing strong, maybe you’ve heard about it? People loooove to tell you to “power through!” and “finish strong!” You’re supposed to exhaust the exact perfect amount of energy throughout your run so that you can go balls out at the very end and use of that last bit to finish strong. I don’t know why that’s the best way to do it, it just is.  It also happens to be the part I can never nail. Maybe in another 50 years there will be a paradigm shift in running where some forward-thinking and innovative runner realizes that the actual best way to run is to blow your load in the first mile and spend the remainder of the race wheezing and hobbling toward the finish. And then everyone will realize what a visionary I was. Also, maybe we’ll find that bunions offer some kind of evolutionary advantage and I am actually superhuman.

Anyway, my problem is that I am impatient, I think I’m stronger (and cooler and funnier and better looking) than I really am, and when I’m feeling good, I forget how far I’ve got left to go. I’m one of those assholes in Mile 2 going, “I feel so good, I think I’ll run 20 seconds under my goal pace even though I’ve never trained at this pace and there’s no earthly reason to think I might be able to maintain it for 26 miles! Wooo!” Then the wheels fall off at Mile 20. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I did a much shorter version of this the other day, when I tried to do 3 measly miles at we’ll call my “goal not-sucking pace.” Clearly I have no idea how far or how fast I’m capable of running anymore because the wheels fell off at MILE TWO and I finished shittily.

Look how shittily I finished.

After that unpleasantness, I smarted up (just a little) and instead of ending with a run/walk, which can make a person feel like a pathetic failure, I started out with a run/walk and just…maintained. Yeah, maintained. Fucking novel, right? I didn’t run fast, but I ran at a pace I could hold through the whole thing and I think that should probably be the loftiest goal I set for myself at this point.

Wheels stayed on.

Anyway, the representation you see above marks the first time post-being-ravaged-by-baby that I ran and actually felt some semblance of the old me. Once, I even caught myself running at a 10:30 pace and I wasn’t even trying to pass a plump lady walking her dog or a mom with a stroller or an old man in long shorts with socks pulled up to his knees. (You can’t escape your competitive nature even when you suck; you just have to pick your battles.) So even though running makes me ache from the inside out and my poor ankles get slushy from holding up my fat ass, I am starting to have just a tiny bit of fun. But if you tell me to “power through,” I’ll eat your face.

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9 thoughts on “finishing strong and other things that are overrated

  1. I had a rowing coach in college who said you should finish completely spent, because if you finish “strong” that means you weren’t working hard enough in the first place. So, good job for working hard!

    • See, I was just going to say the same thing! I’m not sure finishing strong is always the way to do it, because if you finish *too* strong you’ve arguably not been working hard enough the rest of the time. Then again, crashing and burning is also not what we want. I find starting out intentionally a bit slower than you feel like you can run is usually a good strategy for these kinds of training runs. After the initial warmup km’s the pace usually improves by itself, and then you spare yourself the depressing “oh fuck I’m slow”‘s.

      ANYWAY. Yay for running, no matter the pace!

  2. Yup…the run walk is actually what I had to do to get myself in any type of shape. I thought I could just go out and run 3 miles. Those last, oh…2.5 miles would suck. Ha ha ha

  3. I do the same thing every single time. I pretend like I’m some sort of runner and bust out the gate (aka down my street) at some ridiculous sprint and 3 minutes later I’m looking for a soft patch of grass to lay down and die on. I’m still waiting for the day when they realize running is for losers and what we all should have been doing is laying on the couch watching Friends reruns and getting wasted, and only then will we live to 102.

  4. In order to enhance mystrength and endurance I was taking dietary supplements – military grade nutritionals. I used to run and these supplements helped me to double my distances. This is a natural staff that delivers pure energy and brings you up rather quick.

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