Okay, not cheating cheating (that was perhaps a bit of a provocative title), but cheating yourself.
Let me firstly say, for the record, that I don’t have anything against pacing as a concept, or pacers as people(!); in fact they showcase what I’ve found to be the most wonderful thing about the running community – how supportive everyone is of each other. I’m also not saying that pacing doesn’t have its place in races, but what I am saying is that it just isn’t for me.
I’ve had a couple of offers of pacing recently, to help me get PBs at Parkrun and an upcoming 10k at Rockingham. And whilst my first thought was ‘this will be a great way to help me achieve a PB’, I started to have niggling thoughts that any PB achieved with the help of a pacer wouldn’t count.
I love the challenge of running. Not just the physical challenge of pushing your body harder than you thought possible, but the mental challenges of overcoming the (very strong) desire to stop when it gets tough, and of finding your target pace and sticking with it. For me, running is much more of a mental discipline than it is a physical one, and therefore nailing the mental side of a race is just as influential – if not more – in gaining a PB than the physical side. If I were to hand part of that over to a pacer – who would be making sure that I kept my pace up and ensuring that I didn’t have to focus on the timing element of the race so much – I don’t think I would feel the same sense of pride. Yes, my body would have run faster than it ever had before, but I would have had help.
I am a bit (a lot) of a show off, and I love to brag about my achievements, so by handing some of the control and responsibility over to someone else and effectively giving them a contributor credit, I feel like I would be diminishing my moment. A PB is something personal to me, and means so much more than just a time on a watch. It’s a result of MY hard work, MY commitment, MY new-found mental strength and I’m damned if I’m going to share that with anybody.
I’m well aware that this is just my personal issue with pacing, and says more about my character than anything else (control freak, much?) and I am certainly not saying that anyone who has achieved a PB with a pacer shouldn’t be every bit as proud as someone who did it without one. I would never diminish anyone’s achievements and this isn’t my aim with this post at all. (Basically, please don’t hate me).
So, pacers – discuss.