I played Little League baseball for several years of my childhood, and there was a phrase that the coaches used to drill into our heads: Run through the bag.
In other words, when running to first base, you must focus directly on the bag and run as hard as you can until you get past it. If you plan to simply stop as soon as you arrive at the bag, you will slow down as you approach it, giving the other team more time to tag you out. If you looked anywhere else to see what was happening during the play, you would lose focus and be unable to run at full speed.
This technique was to be strictly followed, no matter how dire the circumstances; many times it seemed impossible to make it to the base in time. But sometimes the opposing team makes an error. A wide throw, a fumbled catch. And if that did happen, the only thing that would make the difference between safe or out was whether or not you had run your hardest.