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Showing posts from July, 2013

The Role of the Attention in Racing

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I ran a workout last Saturday with Lanni Marchant. She was tuning up for the upcoming track and field World Championships in Moscow, where she will be competing in the marathon, looking to improve on her 2:31 personal best, and hoping to make a run at the Canadian national record (which is 2:28.)

The workout was more about pace-feel than about building endurance or suffering -- the total volume of work was only 4.5 miles at marathon pace -- but like all good marathon workouts, what it primarily required was concentration. By the end of the workout, with warmup and cooldown, we ran almost 10 miles on the track, and much of it was at specified pace.

It ended up being harder than I expected, and the reason was that marathon pace is slow enough to require only minimal concentration, but it's fast enough to require some concentration. Put another way, the pace is not hard enough to draw the mind to it by itself. I found myself having to remind myself to pay attention, and this in turn …