Runners in lane one! I really wish there could just be a little track gnome with a megaphone who could shout this to clear out lane one from walkers and joggers so that any runners attempting to do speed-work wouldn’t have to try to dodge them, weaving in and out looking like some fellows who belong in the drunk tank.
Alas, alas, not everyone is as schooled at track etiquette as us, right? Today I’m riding a nice endorphin high thanks to getting out to the track myself. The track was loaded with people, which is how all tracks should be, running IS the best past-time after all. My friends head a local track group and it looked like there was a soccer camp going on in the middle of the field and the kiddies then bopped on over to the lanes as well.
I was just doing my own thing today and it did make me ache for a workout budding to help share pacing duties, not going to lie. I think that ache turned into more of a burning desire come those last ones! As any runner can attest having someone or a team for hard workouts make them infinitely *easier*. Well, that is unless you happen to be the one doing all the work.
Having the liberty of sitting behind your training partner, letting them worry about the splits and just keying in on their back takes off a big mental burden and for the most part you all end up clicking off times that are faster than if you were going solo but the effort felt the same, if not less. This goes triple time if there is some wind, tuck in and draft, baby, draft!
Same thing applies in races, the best spot to be is right behind someone so you can ‘use’ them, save your mental energy and then when you feel strong enough blow on by them and then ‘use’ someone else. But you know the worst spot to be in a race, or workout for that matter? Trapped in No-Man’s Land, that empty space between groups or people is like the chasm that opens up on the track and swallows runners up whole. If you’re lucky the black hole island spits you back out, but sometimes you’re stuck there until the finish line.
Sometimes you can’t avoid falling into No-Man’s Land, sometimes it’s a small field and no one is around your pace. But even so, there are a few ways to improve your chances of surviving No-Man’s Land, even getting out of it, but it takes some work and a portion of that is mental.
* Admit you have a problem. The first step is always being honest with yourself, right? That said, the moment you realize that you’ve fallen off the group ahead of you, looking back you don’t see anyone approaching, try to catch the No-Man’s Land trap as soon as possible. If you sense this early enough do all you can to cling on to that group ahead of you and hold on for dear life.
* Don’t beat yourself up. It aint gonna happen? So you’ve been dropped by the group despite your best efforts, that’s okay you can still key off of them. Do your best to keep the gap minimized, but DON’T start the negative self-talk or beating yourself up…if you throw the pity party too early chances are you’ll give up, slow down more, and then the race is basically over. Shake out your arms, relax, do a form check and just keep your eyes locked straight ahead, search for a body up ahead and don’t let the body leave your sight.
* Surge. This may sound crazy because chances are you feel tired, but doing a quick surge and gear-shift can work as a little ‘reset’ button. Going into a different speed will tap into your faster twitch muscles, thus using a different muscle group that isn’t as tired; when you settle back into your pace it may feel easier and you’ll feel a bit recharged.
* Use the catching pack. Sometimes the group from behind catches up to you: USE THEM. Stay positive and use their presence as a positive (not a negative by telling yourself how slow you’re going that they caught you) by letting them do the work. Let any ego go, tuck in, and allow them to do the work and pull you along. If you do this you may come to the point where you feel better and are able to blast past this group.
* Mindset. Worst case is you are left along in your No-Man’s Land island for the rest of the race or workout, it happens. Here is where your mindset and outlook is key. Assess the situation; if you know your legs just haven’t shown up for the day then remind yourself that goal times/paces could be out the window and if this is the case stop looking at the splits and times because they will only stress you out more and depress you. Instead, turn the race into a chance to work on other things: stay relaxed, keep your breathing controlled, focus on your form, and try to get the most out of the given day. If it’s not the legs and you physically feel good then again, focus on the tangibles: form, breathing, stride, running smooth. Use mental tactics, like mantras, to keep going and remind yourself that regardless of if you are alone or not, running is usually a race against yourself and the clock. Stay positive.
Hopefully these suggestions can help you slug through a race or workout if you’re solo or stuck in No-Man’s Land…even better I hope that some tips can actually help pry you out of that nasty solo island!
1) On your last race or workout were you alone for all, most, or some of it? How did you handle that?
2) Have you been stuck in No-Man’s Land recently, if so what did you do to still get the most from the race/workout, and were you able to get out of it?
3) What’s one of your biggest pet-peeves when it comes to people ignoring track etiquette?
Not to sound runner elitist, but I’m sorry, please stay out of lane one and don’t walk in a chain extending to lane three or four if you’re walking or jogging.