Posted by: Joe English | March 3, 2010

Commentary — Embracing the Isolation of Running and Racing

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

It’s Sunday morning and you’re running in a local road-race. The race officials go through the pre-race announcements. Someone sings the national anthem. The gun sounds and suddenly you’re off. You’re running alongside hundreds — or perhaps thousands — of people. You’re in the midst of a big, moving mass of people. You feel the exhilaration of being a part of something bigger than yourself. You are part of a roiling sea of runners and walkers making their respective ways along the race route.

As the race goes along you notice something. You’re doing your thing and the people around you are doing their thing. Some people even have headphones on to tune out the people around them. But mostly you notice that the people around you are totally focused on getting from point-a to point-b. You might have a conversation with one or two people along the way, but you really don’t engage with very many of those people in that massive sea of people.

Late in the race, as you start to become fatigued, you start to feel a little isolated. In fact, you start to feel totally alone. As you struggle, you wonder if you can keep going. The fact that people are around you totally fades away. It’s as if you are doing this all by yourself.

Isolation in running
Isolation among runners is a very interesting phenomenon. While one of the selling points of running in a big race might be to tackle the challenge alongside other people, in reality most of the runners as quite literally doing their own thing. Other than pace group leaders, coaches or friends that you’ve engaged to the task, no one is likely to help you get from point-a to point-b in a road race. And this fact, when you’ve come to grips with it, can be a very powerful tool in your training.

To continue reading about isolation and running, click here.

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