Halfway There

When I ran cross country as a freshman in high school, I was completely clueless about racing. In junior high, I’d just go out and run and I was always on of the Top 10 girls at the meet. Always.

That's about the sum of it.

That’s about the sum of it.

So why would I need strategy?

Oh. Because high school cross country was serious business. Not only was it all about “CONFERENCE, REGIONALS, SECTIONALS, STATE!” but scholarships that might lead to pro bids or even the Olympics, were on the line for some athletes.

Clearly, I was more concerned with my bangs (and other sports) than with my racing strategy.

Clearly, I was more concerned with my bangs (and other sports) than with my racing strategy.

Not for me. Never for me. But I did happen to run on the same team as some pretty fast girls who still kick butt.

Anyway, my coach that year taught me how to really run a race. He always stood at the halfway mark (1.5 miles–my, how times have changed!) and shout at us to SURGE! PUSH! KICK IT IN! for about 100 meters.

Why? What the heck, Coach Mustache, I’m only halfway there! Ahhhh, there was a method to his madness.

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Halfway there is not THERE. You are not near the finish. You are not even close. Halfway there is mental.

No matter the distance, halfway into a race is when the real race starts. It’s the point in the race that you either start to make a move or it all falls apart. You either choose to refocus or get bogged down in having so. much. farther. to go.

You either surge or you bonk.

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Things to do halfway into a race:

  • Start focusing more on your form.
  • Surge for a little bit and then find your pace again.
  • Make a mental note of what the rest of your miles should look like and commit to getting there.
  • Zone out the noise and hone in on your race.
  • Work harder.

The second half of anything is always harder.

The second half of a marathon beats the crap out of you. The second half of grad school is irritating and tedious. Halfway through training means you haven’t even hit your longest runs of the cycle. The second half of pregnancy is heavier and even more (really?) exhausting…something to look forward to. The second half of a 5K makes you want to vomit.

Closing in on the Vomit Threshold in my last 5K. Woof.

Closing in on the Vomit Threshold in my last 5K. Woof.

But here’s the thing, once you push past that halfway point, every step you take gets you closer to the finish line. Cliché though it might be, it’s the truth. So don’t give up. Work harder. Surge. Push.

Suck it up. You’re halfway there.

Now go out and run.

What tricks do you use to stay focused and on target at the halfway point of a race–or life? Impart your wisdom on me! I’m halfway through EVERYTHING right now!

Focus

Wow. I mean…WOW, it’s been a WHILE. Hi guys. I missed you all.

In the past month (er…almost two?), I’d go out for a run or be in the grocery store or at my workouts class and writing posts in my head. Then I’d get home, get busy, get distracted, and not write anything down. Lazy? I prefer to say I’ve been focused.

So true. (Image courtesy of michaelczinkota.com)

So true.
(Image courtesy of michaelczinkota.com)

Toward the end of last semester, I had to really put my blinders on and focus on the most important things in my life. Thus, I had my limits.

Finals (ugh), health, family, work, and celebrating the holidays and winter break were my highest priorities for the past month. As much as I love writing, it sits solidly on the back burner of my life when things go bananas. It’s not my job. It’s relevant to what I do and certainly a part of what I want to continue doing. But still, not my job.

I want a box like this on my desk.

I want a box like this on my desk.

And neither is running. So, when life happens, sometimes running takes a back seat. At various points in my life, I have had to sit it out from running for stretches of weeks and months.

Getting sick and having two major abdominal surgeries taught me to appreciate everything my body can do.

It's tough to run when attached to IVs and such.

It’s tough to run when attached to IVs and such.

I no longer care so much if I PR in every race. If I “only” get a 4 mile run in, it’s still worth going out and doing. If I have to drop down from a full to a half because my body is working double duty, so be it.

There are millions of reasons why someone may need to (or should be ok with) cutting back or taking a break from running. The important thing is to be able to recognize that:

  1. Running is not your job.
  2. Running is not who you are.
  3. Running is not the only way to get sweaty.

It’s ok to put it down and pick it up as your life changes. Taking a break does not mean you’ve failed or are weak or that you aren’t a runner anymore.

It's ok to take a moment for yourself.

It’s ok to take a moment for yourself.

Don’t feel guilty about taking a step back from something like running. It can be a great thing to do for yourself, especially if you plan on coming back to it at some point.

I’m down to 15-20 miles/week from 65 miles/week back in September. Do I miss it? Yeah. Is it gonna kill me to taper back in order to focus on other things? Definitely not. Gotta get through this semester with my sanity intact and stay healthy.

So, you may hear from me less. I may be running less. But I’ll be back.

Just like Arni. (Image courtesy of TriStar Pictures)

Just like Arni.
(Image courtesy of TriStar Pictures)

Now go out and run.

What have you been up to this winter? Anyone running a race coming up in the spring? I feel for you all who ran through the Polar Vortex. It was brutal out there! Stay warm, friends!