I did a hill workout this morning which resembled many of my workouts in its pattern. I had eight hills to do, so I rolled into the first one without a lot of enthusiasm – just getting the work done, one foot in front of the other. But once I was about halfway through the workout I started to get excited about pushing harder, and I started running the hills faster. By the time I was down to my last two I was pushing as hard as I could and running my fastest hills of the day.
I’ve been training to run my workouts this way (saving the fastest for last) for over 25 years. Nobody “wins” the workout on the first interval. I was always told it was the last one that counted. I run all of my harder training runs this way – whether they’re tempos, long runs or interval workouts. However I’m not sure if my pacing tactics are due to years of training that way, or whether they are the result of my innate personality.
I know many people like to go out hard, figuring it’s “time in the bank” and they think if they are going to get one super fast segment out of themselves it might as well be the first one. They like to front-end-load their work. I understand this mentality, and I don’t judge it. But no matter how much you tell these people to save the fastest, hardest effort for last, some seem just incapable of doing it. I think that this too is an innate personality trait.
In my non-running life, I am someone who works to a deadline. If I know where the finish line is, I pace myself accordingly. In university I could have three weeks to write an essay and all the work would happen in the last day. I ramp up in pace and intensity as I get closer to my goal. I just cannot seem to go hard out of the gates. I wish I could though! I really wish I could get all of my work done days in advance and then have free time at the end. But I think I am fundamentally incapable of that type of pacing. I can’t do my best or most efficient work with lots of time to spare. I sprint to the finish every single time.
Have all my years of training with negative splits in order to get my best running results rubbed off in other areas of my life? Or is this just a strategy which suits my personality for any task I undertake? I’m not sure. But if you want to see my best work in anything, you’ll have to wait until the end.