Thursday, 25 October 2007

What a difference a second makes

1:23:00. Why does that sound slower than 1:22:59? More than a second slower, that is? It's the £5.99 mentality, isn't it? Though I'm sure a million schoolchildren have discussed how £5.99 sounds more than £6.00 to them, really, except when they think about it, and that few runners have pointed out the irrational foundations of runners' targets. When was the last time you heard anyone say that they were targeting 3:00 for a marathon (except, perhaps, as a figure of speech), or 3:15 and so on? Never. It's always 2:59:59 or sub-3. When was the last time you heard someone target 3:00:01? Surely not. The :01 and :00, even the :07 (I know someone who ran 3:00:07 and stayed there for some years) are as welcome as a blister, a slippery shoelace, a pile of dog deposit. The :59 is a close getaway. :31 - :49 is "some change". But :00 to :09 is unforgiving.

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