Pace yourself – two words every athlete has heard, regardless if it is a newbie or experienced professional. Frequently it is said by someone other than one’s self. When it comes from within, it usually takes longer to admit. For me, I have heard it from both sources, however it took me a while to catch up.
In early June I had what I thought was a brief set back. By early July I was at a point that I was able to build back my endurance and strength. My running coach modified my training plan accordingly. I was pacing myself based on the thought all was back to normal. By mid July that changed. The last five weeks I have slowly come to accept I have to pace myself according to how I feel. I could no longer keep pace with my expectations.
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau
This quote truly frames what I had to do. In order to change my pace in swimming, I had to go back to my tempo trainer. This little device has become my drummer. Through trial and error I have come to learn that when swimming freestyle taking a stroke every 1.15 seconds is optimal for me – given all of my variables. I had slowed my stroke down when I first used the tempo trainer last year, however I stopped using it and swimming with others has influenced my pace a bit. Too fast of a turnover stroke or body rotation is not good for me right now. If I want to stay in the pool, I have to slow down – my stroke at least. Water is a very different medium than land – a slow efficient stroke done properly actually helps the swimmer go faster. A bonus is I am consistent with my times now and the numbers geek in me loves it. I count my strokes, keeping pace to the beep of the tempo trainer, and work on elongating my glide. To consistently break 2 minutes per 100 meters I need to keep my strokes to 22 or less. I am between 22 and 24 right now.
Running is a little different for me. My endurance was basically decimated and I thought I could jump back in right away. I was covering the distance, however my pace was far slower than I expected. My long runs were building from 7 to 10 miles and I got to the point I dreaded my long run, I just didn’t have the gas in me. I had to accept that my long run had to start at 5 miles. I wanted 10… Once I convinced myself I had to – yes – pace myself, I began enjoying running again. My iPod nano also has become a good running partner. I have heard the arguments for and against running with music and I have run both ways. Lately, playing music has helps keep my pace going and motivates me on.
My different drummer is telling me to pace myself based on my current abilities and situation. These are unchartered waters for me. I have always had a race on the calendar that dictated my pace. Now my calendar has switched from month (or year) view to day view. One more reminder to seize the day, it is all that is in view.