It’s your biggest race of the season. Before the start gun goes off, adrenaline saturates every blood vessel in your body. You feel ready to take on the world, no less the 26.2 miles ahead of you. Butterflies fill your stomach.
And then the start gun sounds. You take off, liberating all of that pent up energy. It translates into an overly aggressive pace – you’re running 10, 20, or even 30 seconds faster then any per-mile you’ve consistently held during a long training run.
The scenario I just described is usually a recipe for disaster later in a race, especially a marathon or other long-distance endurance event. We forget the race can’t be won in the first 5 or even 15 miles. Our emotion, ego, the excitement of the day, whatever it is, but it takes over and blocks our rationale thought process. We forget how to run with patience.
And it’s patience that wins races.
Take for example the elite mens’ race at this year’s New York City Marathon. Former marathon world-record holder Wilson Kipsang, who ran with a group of about six other runners most of the race, found himself in a dual with 2013 Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa. They ran within seconds of each other for the entire race, and at mile 25 they were stride for stride. That’s where the video clip below picks up – within the final mile.
Watch Wilson Kipsang. His composure, patience, and self-awareness is incredible. He had the courage, skill, and mental fortitude to let Desisa make the first move. Then at the very last possible moment – the right moment in this case – he takes over, and drops the hammer.
We can all take a lesson from Kipsang’s performance to improve our own patience while running.
Try these workouts to practice patient running
1. Negative-split Tempo Run
Warm up for 20-25 minutes, followed by a tempo effort of any duration that’s run faster during the second half then the first. So, if it’s a 40 minute tempo effort at half-marathon pace, run the second 20 minutes faster then the first 20 minutes.
2. Fast-finish Long Run
Incorporate a 10-15 minute fast-finish to your long run. Whether the run is 13 or 20 miles, ending with a hard effort will help simulate that surge to the finish line at the end of a race.