Is there a faster runner within? I often wonder. Some time ago I clearly remember thinking I had had my lot, past my best and all that, yes seriously. That was until I found out I wasn't very well and there was a reason why I was slowing down. Since then I have improved times in races I never expected I would. The key words there, 'never expected'. I also ask myself if placing pressure on oneself has any bearing on the outcome of a race? I don't suppose I'll get answers to those questions if indeed there are any! Looking at the bigger picture, I suggest there's really not one reason but whole load of reasons why we sometimes don't perform as well as we would like.
I'm currently reading 'Run Like a Girl' by Mina Samuels, another of my birthday gifts (thanks Soph), described on the website as 'part locker-room confidential, inspiring manifesto, and personal memoir, the book shows us, through stories of nearly a hundred women, how the confidence women build by participating in sports - whether it's running or rock climbing, swimming or yoga - can transform our lives in profound ways. Lively, funny and sometimes heartbreaking, in the candid stories, which fill it's pages, these women share how sports helped them overcome life's obstacles and achieve the happiness and success they'd been running toward'. I'm gripped after reading the first few chapters so more on that later.
I'm now working towards the Askern 10 mile, the Great North Run and the Bridlington Half Marathon. All of these I have aspirations to beat previous times. That, I think, is a for gone conclusion with most runners, we all want to better our times but some of us don't want to broadcast it as the thought of public failure is much worse than private failure. Of course taking part and finishing a race really isn't a failure at all is it? Try telling us that! It seems to be how you deal with it within yourself. I have known people who have pulled out of a half marathon race 5 miles in because they knew they weren't going to get the time they had set out to do and won't settle for anything less. That, I find bizarre. I won't and don't follow my time so closely that I could make such a decision early on in a race, I tend to take the 'what will be will be' attitude. The outcome is at or extremely near the finish and no time sooner. I have only publicly declared my intentions in a race on a couple of occasions and sadly fallen down both times, denting my confidence so making me reluctant to do it again. The laid back approach is much more appealing. Unless of course Mina Samuels manages to convince me otherwise!