I was with the Emory track team at a meet this weekend. A freshman was racing the 3k and didn’t want to hear any splits during his race. The first half of his race went great — he was aggressive, towards the front of the pack, and looked strong. The second half he suddenly started letting people pass him before finally putting together a good kick in the last 400m.
Afterwards, I asked him what happened and he said “when I came through the mile, I looked at the clock and it said 4:36 and I got scared.” It didn’t matter that he was feeling great at the time, the fear that he had gone out too fast was enough to get him to slow down and run 5-10 seconds slower than he could have.
As runners we usually have goal times that we’re trying to hit. It’s good to have an idea of what you’d like to run, but I think too few of us are willing to throw that out the window and go for it if we’re really feeling good in a race.
Of course you want to be cautious in a half-marathon or marathon, and you don’t want to be reckless going out too fast. But you know your body better than anyone — if the pace feels good, go for it! Don’t let your pre-conceived notions of what you “should” run keep you from running what you could run!