As most of you are now into your own running program it’s probably a good time for you to take a look at yourself and see what kind of a runner you are.
Discovering your running identity is important because it will help you to understand how your body works as a machine when you train or run.
Once you have identified your running identity you will also be aware of what to expect from your body regardless of the distance you will run in upcoming races.
It also does wonders for your confidence because you will feel better about yourself simply because you will know more about your limitations.
Here are the three running identities.
Okay, the connotation that comes to mind is the word “slow” but that’s not what I am implying here. The turtle is known for having one speed and one speed only. It’s not slow and it’s not fast but steady.
This identity has nothing to do with pace it’s just that there are runners out there who are pretty consistent when they run; never wavering from a basic pace.
These runners will run close to the same pace regardless of whether they’re running a 5K distance or even a marathon with maybe a slightly slower pace for the longer distances.
I’ve known many people like this and the one thing I have noticed is that most of these runners all have the same pre-race routine. This routine includes some special warming up and stretching exercises. Thus for the beginning of every run they are in their own designated warm-up state.
During their runs mile one will be covered in the same time or within a few seconds as miles, two, three, four, and so on. Consistency is the key word here. There is no significant speeding up or slowing down for these folks. “Steady as she goes!” is their battle cry.
These runners fall into a rhythm and never leave this rhythm.
This works for a lot of people because to them it is an injury prevention approach to running. That is, you are less likely to pull a muscle or hamstring or injure yourself if you maintain a steady pace. For some people it’s natural to have a steady pace and for others they actually work at it.
So are you a turtle?
If you’re wondering the answer is “Yes, this runner’s identity has a lot to do with speed.”
I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “Oh he’s the rabbit for this race.”
The rabbit is that type of runner who starts out fast. For the first portion of the race this runner is untouchable, the pace is quick, as if this runner is shot out of a cannon.
In some cases the rabbit is there not to win but to help a friend or, in team competition, to help his teammates.
For instance let’s say you are a running coach and you have a team of several runners with their own specialty.
As a coach you might throw in your two-miler specialist in a 10K race to speed up the pace for your 10K runners and perhaps subliminally get them to run faster.
Rabbits don’t always win”¦in fact they hardly win.
Why? Well, let’s face it; you cannot keep up that pace for too long.
Many times I’ve seen rabbits in races, including all the races I’ve ever participated in at Walt Disney World.
These runners zip by me during the first or second mile but for the most part cannot keep up that early pace and soon settle down to a more comfortable pace.
Rabbits run the risk of injury especially if they do not warm up before a race. If you start off fast then your muscles and body should be well warmed up to best avoid a pulled muscle.
One of the reasons I am glad I’m not a rabbit is that I would not just worry about injury but I would worry about running out of gas before covering the race distance.
I’m not a rabbit”¦are you?
That’s me. I’m a snowball. That is my running identity.
I didn’t realize I was a snowball until one day some 30 years ago while running in a local 5K race. At each mile marker there was a race official yelling out the split times as we crossed each marker.
When I hit the second and the third mile splits I noticed that my times were quite different. How different? Well my third mile was over a minute faster than my first mile.
Ever since that race I started to pay attention to this aspect of my running and to this very day the same holds true for any distance I run. The first mile is always my toughest mile and I think it has a lot to do with my preference to use that first mile as my warm-up time.
During the 2006 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon I noticed that the difference was even greater. My first mile was something like 95 seconds slower than miles two through five.
So why do I use the term snowball? Well, picture yourself standing at the top of a mountain and making a snowball and rolling it down the mountain. It starts off slowly and gradually picks up speed. That’s what some runners do as well.
For those types of runners there is a certain point in every workout where their running rhythm begins to click and they actually go on something that they call “autopilot.” When you hit that point and everything is working well”¦your breathing, your muscles, everything, it is at that time that you’re probably running at your optimum speed.
So when you start a race you’ll have all three kinds of runners and what you will see is the rabbit who leads the pack from the start and running like there’s no tomorrow. Then there is the turtle that is very consistent and maintains a steady pace throughout the race.
Then you have the snowball who is nothing like the turtle but sort of a reverse rabbit”¦maybe we should call this runner a “tibbar” or rabbit in reverse.
You’re body and its approach to exercise, stamina, and running determines what kind of a runner you are. I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that says you can adjust your identity to whatever you want it to be.
It’s a natural thing so embrace whatever identity you are because it’s what’s best for you.
So which identity fits your running style?
Mike’s Training Diary
The dogs days of summer are upon us and we al have to be real careful that we don’t over do our training.
Heat and humidity can do a job on you so constantly hydrate yourself all day.
I’m presently trying to run every day but alternating long days and short days. I had to do a little catching up due to some time off I took will at Magicmeets. We’ll talk a bit about that in my next visit.
I am closing in on six miles and this puts me right on schedule for the TZTOT race in October. My pace is also settling down into what is normal for me.
The pace is not as important as stamina. I have a good idea as to how long I need to be able to run by October’s race and that is my objective.
We have so much to discuss between now and October and now and January.
One important discussion is what I call “Taking a Break” and we’ll discuss this next time.
Happy running everyone.