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Coaching Corner: Pace Your Race

Wellness CoachingLast weekend, I participated in the 9th annual Hilton Head Half Marathon. It marked the fourth time that I had ever gone the 13.1 mile distance. Now a week later, I look back on the event and I’m almost astonished by how far I’ve come as a competitive runner. Over the course of a year, I have improved my Half Marathon PR (personal record) by over 30 minutes. Reason to celebrate? No doubt.

I seem to connect every race with life experiences, and last weekend was full of them. The race began with not only individuals participating in the 13.1 mile mark, but the 5K and 10K runners/walkers as well. As I ran the race, I broke it up into pieces. As the 5K runners dropped back, I switched my focus to the 10K turn around. After the 10K runners fell off, I said to myself “Let’s get up and over the Cross Island Bridge.” At the Half Marathon turn around (mile 7), I was neck and neck with the 1st place finisher and then my shoe came untied (Yes, the one I triple knotted). I thought – how could this come untied at this point in the race? If I stop and tie the flashy yellow shoe, I’ll surely drop behind leaders.   

So what did I do? I continued to run. An untied shoe was an obstacle, but hey it was only 5 more miles. My pace did not slow. I unrelentingly broke up each portion of the race. Remaining in 4th place, I kept the 3rd place runner in my sight. Thinking – just two more miles, I’ll catch him before the end.  As the last mile closed in, my pace continued and I soared past him into third place. The younger runner couldn’t sustain his original speed. He had miss-paced his race. As I cruised into the finish, Hilton Head Health guests greeted me with praise. They celebrated my success and were astonished with my endurance. As a runner and in our lifestyle races, it’s paramount to celebrate accomplishments. I essentially broke down the race and coached myself to success. This brought my mind to Lisa Delaney.

Five years ago Lisa Delaney was 70 pounds overweight when she took her first step onto a dusty track in Austin, Texas. At that time, Lisa expressed she was ‘a girl who ate until her tummy hurt, someone who never passed up seconds’. That night, on the track, Lisa felt as though she didn’t belong, but at the same time she COACHED herself to take it easy (PACE). Lisa ended up running 4 laps, an entire mile. For her it was as if she had crossed the finish line four times. Each lap she took was a cause for CELEBRATION. Each becoming another reason for her to believe, maybe I can do this? Running was showing Lisa that she could BREAK IT UP into small achievable goals.

In the very beginning, Lisa did not worry as much about her nutrition and kept her focus on running. Within a year she dropped eight sizes, quit her dead end job, and practiced saying no to other people and yes to herself. Lisa is now down to 115 pounds and has remained there for 20 years. She still experiences “Rock Star moments” after an early morning 6-miler and celebrates the finish line feeling that resonates in her head and her heart. To learn more about Lisa’s Journey check out her article on Shedding the Past.

Often, it makes more sense to take it one lap at time, one healthy meal, and one half pound loss each week. As you make changes in your lifestyle race, ask yourself these questions from time to time.

Each week what were your best experiences? Celebrate Success.
How did your weekly plan sustain? Pace Appropriately.
What are the steps you’ve taken? Break it Up.
How did you keep the fire burning? Coach Yourself.

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