My daughter ran in the Grand Rapids Marathon a few weeks back. She finished in 4 hours and 30 minutes, which I believe is a respectable time to run 26 miles if you’re not from Kenya. One of the things I learned from her preparations is that you have to have a “plan” for your race. Her plan, apparently, was to use her heart rate to determine how fast to run each mile, striving to keep a relatively steady beats per minute, which may lead to less buildup of lactic acid or other ‘cramp inducers.’ Near as I can tell, she ran the first half of the race just slightly slower than the last half, but kept a pretty steady pace throughout. Good for her!
I have decided, though, that if I ever run a marathon, I will take a vastly different and obviously superior approach. I will jog the first 16 miles of the race and then sprint the last ten. I am pretty confident I can beat her time by doing that. I can jog 16 miles briskly in about 3 hours, and then sprint the last ten at ten miles per hour, in another 60 minutes, finishing in 4 hours. Take that!
I was committed to this plan until a few friends asked some probing questions like, “Bob, have you ever sprinted ten miles?” Brutally, they followed up with, “Have you ever sprinted even two miles?” And then, the coup de grace, “Have you ever sprinted even one mile after jogging 16??”
At that point, I realized the flaw in my plan. Trying to go faster at the end of a long race is no strategy for success especially if:
a) you’re out of shape or
b) you’ve never done it before
So why do so many project teams and project managers think they can get to the halfway point of a project in six months and then finish the other half in two??
It’s gotta be the lactic acid buildup…