Sometimes, the thought of tackling 25 laps of the track can be a scary one. Psychologically it seems a lot further than 10k on the road, but it doesn’t need to. There are a few tricks I try to employ to make the 25-lap distance seem less daunting.
Focus on one lap at a time.
There is no point focusing on the 25 laps ahead of you when you are in the first 400m of the race. If you do this, the race will drag. Try to break it up. I focus on one lap at at a time. I think about keeping those legs spinning and aiming for consistent lap times. It is helpful when the timekeepers shout out the lap times as it allows you to focus on the individual laps and keeping them consistent, rather than the overall time ahead of you. Think of it a bit like a tough session. I don’t focus on how many reps I have left to go, but instead the one I am doing at that exact moment. More often than not you surprise yourself at how quickly each lap goes and before you know it you are over halfway.
Ignore the lap counter for as long as you can.
The lap counter in the 10,000m is something to avoid for as long as possible. If you take a peek too early, it can make the race drag on. I always try to ignore the lap counter. When I go around the start line, I purposely avoid looking at it and keep me eyes directed straight ahead. I try to do this until at least 5k, because then I know I am in the final half of the race and it is all downhill from there. This is how I mentally direct my focus away from the number of laps, because if I haven’t seen the lap counter, I genuinely forget how many laps I have actually done. It then comes as a nice surprise when you do look and have less than 10 laps to go.
Work with someone.
If it is possible, it is great to work with someone or sit in with a group in a track 10k. This way you don’t find yourself doing completely all the work and you have someone else to drag you along and push when you are finding it tough. Often, if you find yourself say within a group, the time goes by a lot quicker as you are purely focused on sitting in and digging deep. It is not always possible to do this, but when it is, make the most of those around you.
Feel good through 5k.
Something a lot of people say, and one I am still learning to accept, is the need to feel good going through the 5k mark, and not cause this to alert you. If you go through 5k and you feel good, don’t be alarmed and think that means you need to push on now, go with it, because, within the next k or 2 you will undoubtedly start to feel the burn. Feeling strong through the 5k point is a very good sign that you are pacing the race well and still have more to give going into the last 5k. In my latest 5k I felt really good going through the 5k mark and in doing so maybe wasted energy surging at points I shouldn’t have because I felt so good. I think it is important to save that energy and use it to really push in the final few k when the pain sets in.
There’s no getting away from the fact that 10,000m on the track is a tough distance. It always will be, no matter how fit you are. These are however a few things I do to make those laps seem less daunting.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!