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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > March 2019 > IS IT BETTER TO CHASE OR BE CHASED?

IS IT BETTER TO CHASE OR BE CHASED?

WHEN IT COMES TO RUNNING, ARE YOU A LEADER OR A FOLLOWER? MICHAEL DONLEVY EXPLORES THE PROS AND CONS OF BOTH APPROACHES

Emil Zápotek could win any type of race. At the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, the legendary Czech claimed the 5000m with a blistering last lap of 57.5 seconds that took him from fourth to first, and having added the 10,000m he decided to compete in the marathon for the very first time.

He paced himself alongside British world record holder Jim Peters, who after a fast opening 15K made the mistake of telling Zápotek he thought the pace was too slow in an attempt to put him off. Taking him at this word, Zápotek attacked, set an Olympic record and became the first and only athlete in history to win the 5000m, 10,000m and marathon in the same Games. Peters didn’t finish.

That’s an incredible achievement, of course, and its foundations lay in Zápotek’s tactical flexibility and mental strength. The Czech was famous for sandbagging with a feigned expression of pain plastered across his face, which he used to win races both from the front and with late surges from behind. In most cases, there are those of us who like to lead and those of us who like to follow.

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About Men's Running

For the last three years running, I’ve had the same New Year’s resolutions: to learn Japanese and to play electric guitar. I’m not sure what the sell-by date of these should be but to suffice to say I can say ‘goodbye’ in Japanese and the only riff I know is Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water – hardly the stuff rock legends are made of. But, more happily, my running resolutions are already proving more successful this year. First, was just to run more often. Lifestyle changes, dodgy Achilles and lack of motivation meant that the last two years have been something of a running wilderness. But renewed enthusiasm over the last 12 months has seen a return to something approaching form and my goal to improve all-round strength is definitely working. I’m running fewer miles but a focus on conditioning has seen marked improvement. Thankfully, this month’s guide lays the foundations for making 2019 your best running year. From top advice on how to nail your tempo running to how to improve your mental focus; the best time of day to run and how to come back from injury, we’ve brought everything together to make sure 2019 is a PB year!