Afraid of speed?

A while back, someone posted on the Runners World forums this question (paraphrased, since I am not going to look it up right now):

How many people are afraid to be really fast; that is, how many people cheat themselves out of a PR and/or significant improvement simply because they believe that they are incapable of anything greater than their current best?

It's an interesting thought, actually. I have noticed, over the last year, that my race speed is significantly faster than anything I manage to achieve while on the treadmill. Some of it is undoubtedly due to the magic of race day, some of it due to the sheer drudgery and pace-killing effect of the hamster pad, but I wonder if there is something else there.

See, without a Garmin, I only have the vaguest idea of how fast I am going for most races. I may hit the split button when I pass a mile marker, but I have learned that I can either run a 4 minute mile in the middle of a half-marathon, or those markers are sometimes off by a tad. . . or more. I can do the math in my head to figure pace and splits, but mid-race, it's usually not worth it. If I am slow on that day, I know it - my pace is off, my stride feels "funny", and nothing settles into place. I don't need to know that I am 30 seconds per mile off my planned pace, because I am not going to catch up. Likewise, if all is going well, or really well, I want to paraphrase Han Solo, and say "Never tell me the time."

But I have a Garmin. So, I have been eschewing the heart rate monitor lately, and running an outside loop. I know the distance, and I try to ignore the pace. I glance at it from time to time, but I try not to speed up or slow down based on what it is saying.

The result? On a treadmill, a speed of 8 mph or more is difficult, and bordering on a tempo workout. Outside, my last short runs have all had an average speed of greater than 8.0, and most closer to 8.5. But they seem only moderately difficult.

Maybe I have been afraid of going faster. I'd like to break that habit, if it is true.


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