"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

You CAN Teach an Old Dog

At the first 5k that I ever ran, (Memphis '94), I noticed them. I watched and I couldn't imagine why anyone would take off running before the race. And not just a few feet up the street, but for what must have been a mile or so.  It seemed excessive and a good waste of energy.  In fact, I vividly recall thinking, "I bet those guys wear themselves out, they should be saving up."  As you can probably guess, "those guys" all ran sub-20 minutes!

So, for the last 18 years, I have watched these handful of runners strut their stuff before the the start, and just couldn't imagine that it was beneficial. (I know, a slow learner, huh?)

Fast forward to last month's Mission 5k. After completing my normal pre-race routine, I had about 20 minutes and decided to give this warm-up a try.  Actually, I had been thinking about it for several months, as I started noticing the split patterns of my weekly short runs. The first mile was always slower than any of the following miles, even on long runs. As a big time negative splitter, this made sense and was encouraging.  Only now, I was putting the figurative 2 + 2 together for 5k performance.

I didn't want to push it, so I took off for a 1/2 mile at 9:00 pace. Worked up a sweat on this muggy morning and settled back into the start.  Guess what? The first mile felt more comfortable than I had ever experienced at a 5k.  I ran strong and ended up with a age group third place.  But it gets better. Just this past weekend, I ran the Moravian 5k and extended my warm-up to a 3/4 mile at 8:30 pace.  Result? How about a new PR (22:24) and a first ever age group win! Are you kidding me; what in the world have I been missing out on.

The moral of the story is that I have discovered a radically different pre-race routine.  One that I would have never thought to consider had I not been taking note of my training, learning from other runners and determining to simply give something new a try.  Funny part is, I think that with the comments and the looks on Saturday morning, I might have even become one of "those guys" now!


  1. Congrats on the nice PR and age group win! It is so rewarding when you can find new approaches that really help something you've been doing for some time.

  2. Great Job on your age group win with PR! Thanks for the kind words of encouragement as you passed me!! David C.

    1. David, not sure if you are still receiving replies, but thought I would check and see if you were running the ROCC 5K again this year. It's this Saturday and we are planning a RFG group photo of any past runner or RFG member (I consider you a honorary one). Also checking to see how you've been doing. It's been several months since I saw you at Salem Lake. Hope all are ok. Talk to you soon. David

  3. Thanks to both REND and David C. Anxious to find another 5k (preferable a flatter one) soon to further test out the theory. I'm also a little curious as to how to determine the right amount of pre-race warmup. I know there's a point of diminishing returns, just don't want to cross it. David, hope you are feeling better and took a little time off to recover.