Time and tide

It has been said that “Time and tide wait for no man” and in running terms the first part of that statement is very true. As you stand on, or as near as possible, to the start line the only tide that appears will be the tide of humanity as it’s released by the starter’s gun. Time won’t be the least bit concerned about your need to tie your laces,stop for a comfort break or take into consideration the adverse weather conditions.

In the two or so weeks since I started marathon training I’ve probably changed my race day plan a dozen times. Each change has been time orientated. The goal is to run the race in under four hours but the splits to achieve that are constantly in a state of flux. I’m not even sure that even as the announcer counts down those final seconds I’ll be confident that the race plan buzzing through my mind in those moments will be acted out in the forthcoming hours.

Watching athletes on TV we often hear them talking about their game plan or strategy and I often wonder whether any of us club runners can achieve these sort of aims. A third of the way around a marathon course is it possible to pick up the pace sufficiently to claw back lost seconds from the early stages, or, for that matter how do you go about slowing the pace down a little to maintain energy levels? Both of the above are possible but it does seem that it is a fluctuating series of events. You slow down for a mile or two as you feel you’ve gone too fast and then you have to pick the pace up as you are now behind target. As anyone that has done a few marathons will tell you it is all about averages. My target time is a fraction over nine minutes a mile so however I get there that’s what I’ve to target.

Time is what we judge ourselves and others on when competing in races but running a marathon is more of an achievement and our finish time should be irrelevant. Shouldn’t it?