There is one thing I believe and that is keep on moving forward in a race. Never stop. You can walk, in fact you should walk, but never stop. Never! And so how did I find myself sitting on a crash barrier on the side of the road at about the 70km mark in the Comrades marathon?
I suppose I could say it was the 30C heat and blasting desert-like wind. I suppose I could say it was the utter fatigue. I suppose I could say it was being in "no mans land" - that space far enough into the run to be exhausted, but far enough before the end to think you are nearly there. All of these are reasons, but still I have never before stopped, net alone sat down. It's a definite "no no" to sit in a race. I've seen people do it and never recover, and I passed many sitting on that day, hundreds in fact. Some even lying on their back with only 2km to go.
Yet there I was, sitting on the crash barrier, seemingly enjoying my Sunday afternoon watching the runners stream past. Why did I do it? There is no doubt I had fatigue, but despite all this I could have just pushed on harder. Yet something in our running easy philosophy called to me. "Try Easier". And so I decided I would reward myself with a 60 second "time out". I would sit on the crash barrier and imagine for a moment I was refreshing, resetting, renewing, as the runners went past. I would "try easier" not harder. And for just a moment I relaxed, I tried to reset.
One minute later I began walking, and a minute or so later I was running again. No, I did not feel like the race had just begun, let's be realistic - I'd been running for over 9 hours, my body is not that stupid that the brain can trick it like that. But I did feel a lot better. I felt like I had been rewarded for what I had done. I had a new resolve, a determination, and my muscles had received a small respite.
So...would I recommend this? Yes and No! It really is a high risk strategy. You could cramp if you sit. You might not have the resolve to continue on. You sit too long...so many risks, However if you feel like you are reaching the end of your strength, then rather take a break. But before you do make a deal with yourself as to how long it will be. I would not suggest more than one minute...and stick to the deal. Thereafter stand and imagine you are feeling much better. Rejoice in the reward you received and the greater one coming later. Then walk a bit to warm your muscles and slow return to running.
I suppose it's like music - without the gaps between the notes there would be no music!
Yours in running easy,