Saturday, July 31, 2010

Keeping the pace in the last couple of miles

The military has definitely figured this one out, in my opinion.  I grew up in a military family and when I was out running with my dad, he used to use some of the Army cadences that are used when running in formation. There are dirty cadences, but there are also simpler chants that match both the breathing rhythm and the footfall cadence.

The latter type I still use today when I am on a long run and start to feel like I might fade toward the end. I have usually fallen into a rhythm where I am inhaling for two steps and exhaling for two steps by steps in a run. During that two step exhalation, I just add in breathy two-syllable words or phrases that I find sort of encouraging or motivational at the moment, and repeat them each time I exhale (sort of under my breath, so passersby aren't offended).

My favorite is to repeat "hell yeah" and "feels good" on alternate breaths.

step--step--step--step--step--step--step--step
hell  yeah--------------feels good------------

[repeat]

This works for me. Somehow, it lifts the spirits just a little and offers enough psychological benefit that I can break through the mental barrier and either maintain or pick up my pace a bit in the last couple of miles. Maybe it's just something to focus on other than the fatigue, but all I have to say about the subject is...

Hell yeah! - - Feels good!

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