The hazard zone of any run, every hard workout, each race is the middle. The excitement and adrenaline has worn off from the first mile and you’re not quite close enough to the finish line to taste it. Here-in lies the dead zone…the dead center.
WARNING: You are now entering the hazard zone. Enter at your own risk. Proceed with caution and ample amounts of guts.
We can break up each workout or race into three parts, to make things simple let’s take a 5k.
* Stage 1: The first mile you’re running on adrenaline. It’s easy to get caught up and go too fast actually, and here is where it’s important to, if anything, stick to your race plan or goal paces. Negative split running generally works best; if you feel like you can run below pace do it in the next stages.
* Stage 2 aka the Hazard Zone: Mile two is where fatigue sets in, the lactic acid has had a chance to build. Mentally it’s easy to let your mind wander or start to dwell on the fact that you’ve still got two miles to go.
* Stage 3: When you’re close enough to ‘taste’ the finish your mind can snap into focus and dig for an extra gear rather quickly. However, if you’ve dawdled away during Stage 2 and only reach this blast for home 400 meters from the finish you’ve lost time and if you cross the line with legs that were able to steamroll THAT much it’s most likely a sign you could have brought more to the race that day. Regret will set in moments after the finish line.
WARNING: The hazard zone is the biggest chunk of your race or workout. It takes up more than an equal third.
The thing is, taking this 5k example to a workout, say of 6×800 meters. The ‘novelty’ of Stage 1 could wear of after the first interval. Then it’s really only the very last interval that anyone can ‘gut’ through. So that leaves 4×800 meters of hazard zone.
Your hazard zone runner care kit:
* Predict it: Know the hazard zone and be well aware it’s going to hit. Here is where before your workouts or races even happen you can use visualization to get yourself mentally prepared to handle it.
* Prepare for it: There is mental preparation that you need to do before and during the workout. Having others around you for your hard workouts can also help, as they can pull you along. Physically you can also set yourself up best to push through the hazard zone by ensuring your legs have enough in the tank. This includes properly warming up to get your body ready to run fast and then being mature enough to run within yourself for the early intervals. If you blitz out too fast in the beginning, physically you could sabotage your workout right there, dead zone or not.
* Battle it: When you’re in the hazard zone focus on the concretes rather than how tired you are. Do a form check, focus on your breathing, make sure that your shoulders are relaxed or your jaw isn’t clenched and if you’re running behind someone pinpoint a spot on their back and DO NOT let any distance develop between you and that spot.
* The pain: Here is where you need to play mental games with yourself. Use mantras, ‘I am fast. I am strong.’ Pretend you’ve only go this last interval (or 1/2 mile) to run regardless of what number you’re actually on. Remind yourself that if you give in and ease up now you WILL regret it when you’re done…even though that voice in your head is telling you that you really won’t care, that’s a lie.
Don’t let a crash in the hazard zone sabotage your workout or your race; sense it’s coming and run your butt off all the way through it.
The feelings of being stuck in the hazard zone is also very similar to being stuck in No-Man’s Land during a race. You can check out that post HERE.
1) How much of your workouts or races, do you feel, is made up of the hazard zone? When your ‘almost finished’ alarm goes off and kicks back in, how close are you usually to the finish of the race/workout?
2) What’s been a time you feel victim to a crash in the hazard zone and your race/workout suffered?
3) When’s an instance you did an awesome job of pushing through and kicked the butt of the hazard zone? What’s one of the tips or tricks you have when doing so?