When it comes to the best way to mentally approach a race, one of the greatest pieces of coaching advice I have ever been given is this,
‘Start logically, finish emotionally’
Emotion is certainly a powerful weapon to help drive you to achieve great things, but it’s a little bit like anaerobic respiration – great for short, powerful bursts, but a disaster for sustained efforts.
While this is true, applying it in a race is sometimes a lot harder than it seems. Having the confidence to trust in your own pacing, and not be drawn into the race for the lead in the first 400m is not easy to resist – particularly in a championship race, or a hometown race where emotions tend to run high.
Due to the course, Sheffield Half Marathon is a course on which pacing is vital. If you go off to hard, you’re going to suffer on four to five miles of climbs, which will compound both the pain, and the impact on your overall race result. It’s a tough course, and that’s why we love it. Amazing atmosphere, brilliant support, and a super challenge.
I’ve not always been the best at living up to the important piece of coaching advice I highlighted earlier. However, I’m delighted that this year I was able to do so. For probably 60% of the race I wasn’t in the podium positions. I was with my chasing group and together we caught and passed 2nd place. Looking back, possibly we could have caught 1st place.too (the challenge for next year).
Coming down Ecclesall Road with two miles to go I felt strong. Moving into the last mile I knew exactly where I was going to attack. Executed it to perfection and I took 2nd with 15-20 seconds to spare. That was only possible because I started the race in a logical, controlled manner. That enabled me to empty all the emotion into the last 400 metres and sprint flat out.
Delighted with the result, and even more delighted to have the chance to race in my hometown on one of my favourite courses. Having now finished 2nd twice in the Sheffield Half Marathon (once on the old course, once on the new), it’s probably time for me to focus on making that final push for No.1.
Bring on Sheffield Half Marathon 2019!