The other night when I was racing, I had an all-too familiar experience with the mile markers. It doesn’t happen every race, but it does happen most races. It doesn’t even matter what the race distance is, be it short or be it long, it can happen. And it drives me nuts.
It was one of those times when you swear, swear, that the mile marker had to be wrong, because it took so damn long to get from one to the next. Now, sometimes they really are off, but most times, they’re pretty spot on. I think it all comes down to how you are feeling at any given point in a race. In the marathon, for instance, don’t you find that the first half just flies by? Then miles 20 to 26 of course seem to take. ALL. DAY. LONG.
For me last Saturday night it was between miles three and four that I had the forever mile experience. Mile three actually caught me off guard by coming up so fast and I thought to myself, excellent, only two to go! Then time stood still. I ran and ran and ran and it seemed I would never get to mile four. It’s no coincidence that this was the point in the race where my breathing seemed the most labored and I just couldn’t seem to move any faster, no matter what. Finally I hit four, and then five seemed back to how it should seem–about a mile.
I knew in the midst of that long mile exactly what was going on–that it was all in my head and I just needed some mind over matter. In this case I kept reminding myself that the entire race was only five miles long. I reframed it into a matter of time for myself. Realistically, I knew, I only had x number of minutes left of suffering. I’d suffered that long a million times before and I could do it again.
For me, this approach seems to help. How do you motivate when the mile(s) seem to go in slow motion?