Every so often, you’ll run a race and find yourself in the zone. The race will go flawlessly. You will run a personal record almost effortlessly. It’s an amazing feeling when this happens but it won’t be every weekend that every variable will come together.
When those incredible race situations do happen, it’s important to capitalize on them and try to race as fast as possible. A lot of what goes into running a spectacular personal record is physical – like your training, race preparation, and consistency – but much of good racing is mental.
I want to focus on the mental aspects of racing. I’ve had the best races when I was in great shape but did not put high expectations on myself. I was out to have fun and to be competitive. Motivation was also high and that’s what I’m serving up today: a good jolt of running motivation.
Below are five of my favorites that motivate me and jack me up to race fast. I hope they do the same for you.
Hicham El Guerrouj
Watch Hicham El Guerrouj run the (still standing) world record in the mile: 3:43.13. I love this race not only for the mind-blowing speed of the record by the “King of the Mile,” but also because it was competitive. Many world record attempts are essentially time trials with pace setters. Not this race.
While this American record has since been broken, it had stood for 13 years. Dathan Ritzenhein smashed the record by nearly two seconds running 12:56.27 and placing 3rd in a very competitive Diamond League 5,000m field.
This is another American Record race – Alan Webb breaking Steve Scott’s mile record. The record of 3:47 had stood for over 25 years which makes this very impressive to me. Webb runs 3:46.91 and becomes the fastest American to have ever run this distance. Like Ritzenhein, Webb is only a year older than me and I followed him in high school, making this race special to me.
Billy Mills won the 10k at the 1964 Olympics. At the time, he was not favored to win nor did many people know him by name. Winning in dramatic fashion, he out-sprinted the field for a dramatic victory. He ran almost 50 seconds faster than he ever had for 10,000 meters and claimed he already knew he was going to win. Talk about chutzpah.
Ryan Hall shattered the American Record in the half-marathon of over 20 years by running 59:43. He also broke the North American record and this race is considered one of the best performances ever by an American. His average mile pace for 13.1 miles is 4:33.
I hope these races have inspired you to get out there and race. Every time I watch them I get excited to toe the line, test my fitness, and push boundaries.
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