This is one I feel pretty strongly about.
It’s not a training technique, it has nothing to do with science and in some situations it may even increase your risk of injury. Regardless, this is one of my rules.
I’m talking about the how you finish.
I’m talking about KNOWING you gave it all.
The rule is, whenever you finishing a race, the moment you cross the line there must be no doubt in your mind that you have given every ounce of your being. I’m not talking about finishing strong and fast, I’m talking about going SO HARD at the end, that your heart feels like it is going to tear out of your chest, your lungs are being shredded to bits and your legs are screaming like a banshee.
Running for me is a metaphor for life. The journey is long and you have to work at it to make it great. Racing is the beautiful expression of life turned up to high. It is taking the fruits of your hard work and the personal philosophies that you have cultivated and stretching them to see if they are up to the challenge. While in the midst of racing there will be plenty of time for conserving, strategy and the metering out of your effort, but when you reach that point where it is no longer important to keep the leash on, my opinion is that unless you run like today is your last day on earth, you are missing out on the full richness of what that moment in time can potentially provide.
I am absolutely convinced that when I’m 97 years old and sitting on my back porch thinking about my life, if I regret anything it will be the things I CHOSE NOT TO DO, not the things I actually did. So, I’m not going to give the 97 year old version of me memories of days where I could have gone harder, could have forsaken comfort for effort or control for reckless release.
It has nothing to do with ego, but there is glory (personal glory) and satisfaction that comes from finishing something with an intensity that frightens you and that can be felt by those that witnessed it.
This way of thinking may not be suitable for those runners that are in the mix of potential winners. If your race strategy is dialled in so tight that there is no margin for error, then stick to your plan. If you are a runner that would just love to do better, be better and run like it matters, then try it. In your next race, don’t wait until you can see the finish line to give that last burst, do it before anyone expects it. Do it when you aren’t sure if you can sustain it. Do it like it matters.
I remember watching the Tour de France the year Cadel Evans won. I can still see him sitting on his bike about to begin the stage that would seal the deal for him to win. The camera zoomed in on his face and I was instantly certain that victory was his. He had a look in his eyes that was so incredibly intense. He was prepared to ride to within an inch of killing himself and if he needed to give even more, he would.
This is the essence of what I’m talking about. Finish in a way that people will remember and you will not regret.
Run long…. and leave no doubt.