The Art of Getting Dropped

I have written here before about how lucky I am to have such a great training group in Baltimore. Amidst the strip clubs, the panhandler children trying to clean your windshield and the murders, Baltimore City is a training ground for some of the fastest women in the region. It’s pretty neat.

But…it’s a double edged sword.

I’ll paint a picture for you: Sunday morning at the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. The tourists have just gotten down to the city and are walking around Rash Field, or getting in line at the Aquarium. All is fairly quiet. Suddenly from around the corner of the Baltimore World Trade Center building pops 3 girls, running very gracefully, albeit very quickly. Twenty-five seconds later, one more girl follows. She is about their age. She is focused intently on them. She appears to be part of their group, but is also looking much more labored and frantic than they were as they passed by. “Flailing” would be the word that comes to mind as she moves.

Is she their friend? Why are they running 50 meters ahead? How long has she been chasing them?

Ladies and gentleman, this is the picture of a situation called: I Got Dropped.

The best part of it all? I asked for it! I sent an e-mail to these girls asking them to run with me this past weekend, knowing full well that the average of their marathon PR’s is a 2:57. I knew full well that when the last 20 minutes of the run calls for “goal half marathon pace” that it meant 7’s for me, and 6:30’s for them. I KNEW I would be dropped. And I did it anyway.

Because it makes me faster.
Because it builds mental toughness.
Because it gives me something to blog about.

Whatever my motivation, I will continue to get dropped. In those 14 minutes after I let myself fall off their pace I had some time to think, and I came up with these….My top 5 suggestions for getting dropped:

1. Have a planned  route. If you know that going into a run it calls for a pace where you may not hold on, discuss with the others a route to run. This way when the tempo relaxes, they can back-track and will be able to easily find you.

2. Try to keep up for as long as you can, within reason. You don’t want to stretch your limits so far that you won’t finish the interval. But, there is nothing wrong with a challenge.

3. Make a signal. Carly and I have trained together for long enough, that when she looks back and I give a nod, she knows it means “I’m dying here and can’t keep up, I’ll be right behind, you go.” For others it could be a thumbs up. Or a cartwheel. (okay that’s not practical)

4. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to not want to be dropped on every single run. (And you NEED some relaxed easy days anyway.) Just be honest with yourself when you’re planning your runs and making plans with others. It is NOT okay to agree to run with someone and back out at the last moment because you don’t feel like it if they’re a little faster. Give them some more notice!

5. Drop someone. That sounds a little weird, but look around your training group. Is there someone else you can reach out to who keeps up “most” of the time, but maybe could be pushed a little more for some harder efforts? Share your run plans, and see if they’ll tag along. Teaching others that it’s not so bad will help everyone get faster!

Published by Alyssa Godesky

Alyssa is a professional triathlete who has logged over 8,000 miles in competition of swimming, biking and running across five continents. She came to triathlon from an ultrarunning background and over the last few years has found success back on the trails: in 2018 she set the female supported Fastest Known Time (FKT) on Vermont's 273 mile Long Trail in 5 days, 2 hours and 37 minutes. In 2020 she set the women's supported FKT for climbing the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks in 3 days, 16 hours and 16 minutes. She is a triathlon and running coach, and also enjoys spending time guiding hikers out on the trails. Alyssa is based in Charlottesville, VA with her dog Ramona.