The Familiar vs. The Unknown

After a couple days away from the blog, and from the roads, I’m back now. Today’s topic stems a little bit more from my non-running life, but can easily be brought back into running (like just about everything else).

It’s looking like a very real possibility/likely-hood that I could be relocating for a new job in the near future (if next week all goes well). If it comes down to a choice that I have to make, it would be between living in a city I’ve never set foot in, two time zones away (the unknown) or a city where I have friends in my home state (the familiar).

Regardless of if you find yourself in a similar situation in life or not, it’s an interesting situation to ponder. Do you take the leap, not really knowing what to expect? Or go the safe route, having a better idea about what awaits you?

Here is where I can tie this into running, and specifically my experience at the Rock N’ Sole. Every race you enter (maybe with the exception of a marathon or longer), you have a choice in your race strategy. You have the choice to push your limits and see what you can do, or opt for a more restrained approach.

Example. Going into Rock N’ Sole, my Half Marathon PR was (and still is) a 1:26:10. Obviously, as a competitive runner, I always want to shave time off of this. That specific time is about a 6:35 pace for the distance. Leading into the race, I had hit some regular runs at a 6:37, and under 7 on longer runs when it felt like I was holding back. Running in that ball park probably would have been more than doable. The plan, as you know if you’ve been keeping up with my posts, was to dip into the 1:24 range, which is a 6:28 at the slowest. Anything in the 1:25 range would be a PR.

If you had asked me at the start line if I was in shape to drop a 1:22 or 1:21 in the Half, I would have said no. Without a doubt no. Yet within the first mile and a half I consciously made a choice to maintain that pace. Obviously, it didn’t work out. At all. Never have I been eaten up by a Half or less than I was in that race. But I’ve never gone out at that ambitious of a pace in relation to my fitness level.

It didn’t work at Rock N’ Sole, but going outside of my pace comfort zone is also how I hit a minute and a half PR at the Polar Dash in January. It’s how I won Beer and Bagel this year.

Conversely, had I gone out about 20 seconds per mile slower, I would have been close to my PR, maybe under if the race went well. For sure, I run a sub 1:30 in this scenario, I have no doubt.

My best example of this would be Gopher to Badger. I knew coming off injury and Grandma’s that a PR wasn’t in my future. I did go out at a decent pace (that 6:35 area actually) and backed off from there. It was a more conservative race. I didn’t PR by about a minute and a half, but finished well and improved my time from the year before. A good race, but in terms of improving, I didn’t have that to my overall time.

The way I see it, there are benefits to both. By going into the unknown, we learn more about ourselves. We learn more about what we are capable of, and what our limits are. By opting for the familiar, we might have more fun and a more enjoyable experience. We have the comfort, but not the adventure.

When put in a fork in the road situation, what do you do?

Run: Tuesday represented my first run since Rock N’ Sole. After spinning on Monday, I was ready to hit the roads. What greeted me was the sweltering heat of this Iowa summer. For about 7 miles of the 7.5 mile run, we got cooked out there. The last half mile saw a storm roll in, and the temps crumble. No idea on the overall pace, as my watch took the first three miles off. Likely sub 7 over the first 3, and 7:40s the rest of the way. Going off of my perceived effort at least.

With another day of mid-90 temps, I’ll be forced inside today. Not willing to opt for some speed work outside, I’ll be testing out the treadmill for some speed work. If nothing else, this will allow me to work on my pacing.

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