This has been my strategy of late: just keep up. Usually that is the case when I am in school–as much as I plan to get ahead of my work any given semester, I always find that keeping up is the best I can do.
Keeping up takes on a slightly different meaning in running. It’s not that I’m falling behind my work, it’s that I don’t know how hard to work. I struggle to pace myself in a race, at a workout, on a long run, or an easy run. Last Saturday I raced the Central Park Conservancy 4-miler. In my head I thought I should maybe shoot for 7:40 pace since I had run a 5k at 7:37 pace the week before. I wore my garmin, but I was going on feel–only checking pace at mile splits. After getting through the first half mile with minimal weaving (thanks for the tip Tanya!) I tucked in behind two dudes that seemed to be about my pace. Sure enough, 7:40 first mile. But then the second mile was 7:30–eek. I knew I couldn’t sustain 7:30 for two more miles, so I pulled back a bit and found a new focal point to chase after. 3rd mile was slower, 4th mile was faster, and I finished up in 30:40. A 1:30 PR and 7:40 pace on the nose… but only because I picked out runners to keep up with.
Fast forward to Tuesday night’s speed workout. I showed up to UA nervous because a) speed work is still new to me, and b) I’d never done 1000m repeats before. In my head I guessed I should shoot for around 4 minutes a rep, and the UA coaches confirmed that would be a good goal. But then the coaches told us all to dial it back a notch given the heat and humidity. Still, I didn’t know what 1000m felt like, much less a 4-minute 1000m. GO!! I tucked in with a couple of girlfriends and just told myself to keep up with them. Finished up in 4:11, then 4:06, then 4:16, and finally 4:08. While I didn’t accomplish Jay’s goal for me to make my last repeat the fastest, I felt good about my splits. More than anything, I felt grateful for girls to keep up with.
You can only keep up with respect to something (or in this case someone) else. You keep up with a syllabus or a deadline or a teammate. I think once you have kids, you keep up with them–or at least try to. I’m really glad I like the people I’m trying to keep up with.