Intermittent Sprinting- the Power of Peripheral Perception

The spirit of competition is intoxicating. I had always viewed myself as a solo runner, better able to keep my own pace, machinate my own thought patterns and generally steer clear of the rivalry that arises from competition.

I found out yesterday however that competition serves a great purpose, if not only to push one past their perceived limits.

The runners of the Nike Club gathered at the Mishref Walkway yesterday for a good old fashioned training session. The challenge? 9K or 50 minutes, whichever came first (note if you pulled back after 25 minutes without completing 9K, you did NOT finish properly) . We started off at the parking lot and were told to head down the winding path until we see Burger King, then head back.

With a heavy lunch laden in my stomach, and minimalist shoes that were not distance tested, I set out with the runners to complete the task at hand.

I had a vendetta against one runner (friendly vendetta! not like Joe99 [read about the rivalry here], THAT is personal!) who had previously beaten me at a 100M sprint. As the race started, I kept him in my sights (he was in the lead), gaining on him slowly, waiting for him to tire. Awaiting my moment to overtake him, which happened at the 2~3K marker. I waited until it was just dark enough on the path, and with no one around, I ran up behind and yelled out. He was not phased. I expected a startled jump at least, but apparently this man’s intestinal fortitude is beyond reproach. Having taken the lead, I made sure to distance myself from him, he succeeded in catching up once, and that is where the title of this post comes into play.

Intermittent Sprinting, the power of peripheral perception.

Always try to make it a habit to keep glancing sideways (NOT backwards) whilst running, to see who is coming up behind you; listen for foot beats or scan the ground for shadows of the approaching runners. Once you feel them on your tail,  speed up, a little speed sprint, just enough to maintain the distance between you, but not enough to tire yourself out. This is a very effective method in maintaining a lead. In a race it is always important to look ahead, glancing sideways is a cheat.

As we approached the halfway mark, the Ultra Runner Cristian (@Ccraitza), braving illness, came up beside me, and we ran till the halfway point together, at which point I also met Claus, the super runner.

Any race always starts after the half way point, testing who has enough in the tank to finish. Determination was at its highest. For the next 4.5K I kept glancing sideways to see Claus catching up, at which point I would sprint slightly (this game of Cat & Mouse was first heralded in the RunQ8 10K event [read my review here], where Claus alerted me to the fact that we were a mere 300M from the finish line, shifting me into overdrive).

There were two incidents that took place where I believed I had either seen the last of Claus, or that he would take the lead. The former being at an intersection with the road, I literally ran infront of a speeding vehicle, in hopes that like the movies, I would clear the other side before he would get a chance to cross, where he would look ahead and I would not be there. Didn’t happen. The latter was where I misjudged a driver’s intention, going farther to the right to move behind them when they had infact come to a complete stop to allow me to pass ahead of them. At this point he managed to overtake me. However we were far from done.

He never relented. Anxiously I kept looking down at the ground, counting the Meters till the finish line, 3K, 2K, 1K, 700M… It seemed to drag on forever, and every time he cinched closer, I would accelerate, at the final 200M stretch, reminiscent to our previous encounter, his words of encouragement fueled my final sprint tot he finish line.

I immediately sat down afterward, and only came to realize I hadn’t switched off my Tracker when it was too late!

Minimalist running shoe review:

achieved highest average speed as a result of minimal heel support and landing on the balls of my feet.

Today my calves are slightly sore, as is expected when traversing long(er) distances in new(ish) shoes.

Yes, competition is great (especially if it is within the confines of your own imagination!)

Always be aware of your surroundings as you run; there is no point looking behind you, as the real challenge lies ahead. Short bursts of speed aid in the burning of calories as it counts as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).


August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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