I’ve been involved in distance running for over twenty years and the methods I try to instill in runners have come about via my successes and failures, and also what I’ve observed in others.
One of the most common questions I’m asked relates to competition and what would be the best way to successfully achieve a goal on race day. What pace should I run? Should I run the first Half of the Marathon 2min faster than the second? Given the fact I’m going to slow in the second Half of my 10k should I run 10sec/km faster than my goal pace for the first 6-7km? These questions are all typical of what I’m asked frequently.
A question from one of my online clients:
”Tell me in regards to this 8km run, if I want to finish it in 40 mins, do you suggest that I just go flat out??!! Because I am thinking it is probably the best way I will get there.”
Julie gave me permission to print her words and they are not being used by me here in any disrespectful way. I’m pleased I had the opportunity to advise Julie how to take a more sensible approach to her race as her original plan of attack was destined to fall apart.
I believe the best way to achieve………
I believe the best way to achieve a challenging, yet realistic, goal is to run at an even pace throughout the entirety of the race. All of my best performances were achieved through even paced running. Not once did I contemplate running quicker in the first half to allow for slowing later.
Take Julies goal for example. Achieving the Sub 40min goal should not be based on the mindset that the closing stages are going to get tough and ”I’ll be slowing down hence the need to have a bit of time up my sleeve around 5km” type attitude.
Ideally the situation Julie should be in is one where she is has come off a solid preparation which contained indicators that 4.59/km all the way is going to be tough but the level of fitness gained is going to allow the testing pace to be maintained right to the end.
When all of the World’s top runners set off to run incredibly quick, & even break World records, the plan of attack is not based on allowing for slowing in the closing stages. The plan of attack comes about as a result of how well the preparation has been and how the runner has recently performed over shorter races. The quality of the preparation along with the results from these shorter races are used as indicators to determine if a certain goal time over a longer distance is achievable.
The writing is often on the wall
More often than not the writing is on the wall when it comes to what a runner can achieve on race day. Chance and luck are frequent companions.
There are no short cuts in distance running and you are doing yourself an injustice by having a crammed preparation leading into an event and expecting to slow over the closing stages.
To run a Marathon you need the best part of 20 weeks to prepare and slightly less for a Half Marathon and 10k if you expect a certain result.
What situation do you want to be in?
Do you want to stand on the start line of a race knowing you have had a long healthy preparation or do you want to stand there fearful that you will be carrying a bear on your back in the closing stages?
Your long campaign will not only reward you with a level of fitness you only dreamed about but it will also allow you to achieve your challenging yet realistic goal via a even pace.
It’s a great feeling crossing the line knowing it all clicked on the day, so be smart and start sooner rather than later.