There is something about finish lines that is magnetic. I feel myself drawn to them, practically sucked toward them as if into a vortex. Sort of. Whenever I get close to the finish line, I find that I have a little bit more gas left in the tank than I thought I did and I’m able to kick it up a notch and finish faster than I thought I could.
It could be that I held back too much earlier in the race and now realize that I’m going to make it and I might as well turn up the heat. Or it could be that I am suddenly aware of the number of runners ahead of me and I want to pass as many as I can before the finish. But the more likely explanation is simply that I tend to end a lot of my runs with a kick at the end. Sometimes this is because I want to get home sooner. Sometimes, like during a tempo run, it is because I am feeling pretty good and want to see if I can push it a little bit more. Sometimes it is just to tack on a little bit of a challenge to an easy run. But no matter the reason, it all has the same result: I have trained my body to pick up the pace when I am tired. Which means I am usually able to finish strong.
Here are a couple of ways to kick it up a the end of a workout:
- Do your normal easy run and at the end, add some “strides”: over about 100 meters, gradually pick up speed until you are running at around 85 percent of your total capacity, then decelerate. Repeat at least 5 times.
- Do a progressive run: start at a comfortable pace, but for the the last few miles, push yourself to run at your goal race pace. For an even greater challenge, work up to tempo pace for the last mile or two.
- Do long repeats: if you are training for a marathon or half marathon, run 3-4 miles at race pace, recover for a mile or so, and repeat 3-4 times.
When you get to the race, you’ll have the confidence of knowing you can finish fast, even if you’re tired.