Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Finish Line Strategy

Have you read the July issue of Runners World? I finally broke mine out of the plastic wrapper last week (I think my non-running status had me a little depressed and not as enthusiastic as usual to read it cover to cover the day it arrived) and promptly found an article written by Hugh O'Neill titled "Outta My Way, Grandpa!" with the subtitle, "Exactly who can you blow by - without guilt - in a dash to the finish?"

While the piece conjured up memories of many races run and the excitement of the finish line, it got me thinking about my typical finish line strategy and wondering what is going through the minds of my fellow runners as they get closer to the bagel and banana that awaits them.

For me, it goes something like this: since 99% of the races I've run have been in Central Park (my training ground) I know exactly where the finish line will be. Whether it is cold and brisk or hot and steamy, whether I'm feeling like I could run forever or my legs are feeling like a ton of bricks, I always react the same way as that elusive finish line gets closer and eventually comes into sight. Once I know I'm getting close, I can visualize the finish line and start to pick up my pace a little. As I turn the last corner or the finish line comes into sight, I really start to pick it up, and as I enter the shoot and the crowds are thick and cheering loudly, the thrill of the finish line takes over and my legs start turning over so quickly (it's really not that fast, but it's fast for me!) that it almost seems they have a mind of their own! I tend to be a selfish finisher - I get that finish line in my sight and it's all I can focus on. I may weave past other runners, but not with the intent to finish before them, but to chip off as many milliseconds as I can from my finish time.

With some particular races, I have wondered as I get in line for my cup of water and bagel: "what could I have done if I had pushed it a bit harder throughout the entire race?" It's not like I usually take it easy through the race, and I am usually totally spent at the end, but still. Could I have ticked off a full minute or more if I had pushed it even harder from the start? Or would I have ended up walking over the finish line? Obviously this could depend on a lot of different factors, but no matter what my overall race strategy is (as loose and casual as it is, because really, I run races for the enjoyment, experience, and camaraderie of it all) my finish line strategy is always the same. The harder I push, the sooner I get to enjoy brunch! (oh yeah, and the more satisfied I feel with my effort).

Do you have a finish line strategy?

workout stats -
17 mile bike
3x10 weighted side bends
3x12 cable pull twists
3x10 tricep extensions
3x10 tricep kickback
3x10 lateral arm raise
100 crunches
3x20 hip raises
1x35 seconds plank


sarah said...

This is interesting. For me, my finish line strategy begins nearly a mile away from the end. It's dictated by a couple of factors: if I am dead, physically or mentally; if I'm gunning for a time; or if I'm in a dead heat with someone near me. If I'm not dead, I usually decide to just GO about 300 meters from the end. I don't look back, I don't care who passes me (unless it's that person I was racing) or who I pass, it's just a matter of not slowing down...which is really hard!

Running Through Phoenix said...

You sound like me. I run relatively conservatively in a race then wonder whether I should have stepped on the gas sooner. I'm excited to be coming to NY tomorrow. Going to try to make it to the city Friday evening, but may not make a run in the park. We are staying in New Rochelle with her parents then headed upstate for the 4th. If I get to run the park, I will start on the southeast corner. Take it easy.

baker said...

knowing the course is key! i love to wait right until about 300 yards to the finish, take a deep breath, then gun it with my knees really high and my torso tilted forward. i try to pass everyone in sight. hitting the brakes right at after is a great feeling too, everything slows down and gets back to 'normal'.

misszippy said...

It is nice to know the course...wish I had the advantage of always knowing it. I do try to push myself as I get closer--whether I can or not all depends on how well I paced my earlier miles!

Gina; The Candid RD said...

Oh how I look up to those who run, it's just not my thing! I can imagine, however, what you are explaining. It's similar to how I used to feel in college when I ALMOST scored an A on a test and I thought to my self "Man, if only I would have studied a BIT more!". But then I tell myself I thought I knew it all, so there is nothing I could have done. Just like in a race, I'm sure if I could have pushed myself, I would have...but the fact that I didn't can't be taken back so why dwell?! Just enjoy that banana and bagel, and smile :)

Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly said...

I don't really have an exact finish line strategy...just keep running and oush as fast as I can!!!

ALFIE said...

been thinking of you! i have been so motivated in my workouts lately! lots of kickboxing and yoga :) and you're part of the inspiration! your workout posts always encourage me!

i see you're reading "eat pray love". are you enjoying?

Meg said...

I think your strategy is called "dangling a carrot" in front of the horse or in your case, the brunch in front of the runner. Sometimes I think of a treat I'll buy myself on the way home and it totally motivates me!
Fun post!

Robyn said...

I don't have a specific strategy, but I hate when I don't know where the finish is in a race or I can't see it. I'm always afraid I'll start really using all my energy to push hard too soon and have to slow down before I cross that finish line.

NY Wolve said...

I always have a second half/last two miles strategy. How am I feeling? Have I paces OK, and do I have anything left? Where am I on my pace goal? If I don;t feel so good, or if I am already ahead of pace, it is sometimes just to hold on, not collapse.
The Garmin, really, really helps on the pacing and knowing how much is left.