Monday, September 23, 2013

Negativity splits

(Third in a series.)

So much of running is an individual pursuit that the fear of running in isolation doesn’t seem to make much sense.

Yet there it is.

Not isolation while training on a breathtaking trail. That’s bliss. The issue here is isolation of the race variety. Watching the pack pull away right from the start, your confidence escaping into oblivion like a lost helium balloon. Or even worse, the idea—even the faintest possibility—of being flat-out finished before the finish line, dragging across with a gasping lack of decorum as polite bystanders try to look away.

These are not views brimming with optimism. So taking a turn for the positive by trying to adopt the tactic of running negative splits makes sense. Except that nothing in this sport is as easy as it sounds.

“Don’t go out too fast.” Yes, I’ve heard that one. And contemplated it. And tried to practice it. But fully grasping the concept of slower, even if just at the outset, remains tangled with the enduring quest to be faster.

This has Zen koan written all over it.

Experience, I hope, will help resolve the paradox. After only two Downtown Miles and a few timed miles at TRF practices, embracing both ends of the distance is still as elusive as that “two trains going in opposite directions” algebra problem I never solved. Each time, I try to run the first half slower, but it’s faster, and the second half is more like the second three-fifths.

Yeah, that makes sense.

Zen. Algebra. I think it’s time for a run to clear my head. I’ll try starting out a little easier … .