Run Pacing: Get the Pace Right
Physiologists are agreed that even-pace running is the best way to run – most races for most people. However, even-pace does not mean even effort. It means increased effort as the race progresses. We may, in a 5km run of a sprint triathlon, handle the first 400m in 70 seconds with some ease, we can also maybe reach 800m at the same pace, but for the third 400m and thereafter we have to increase our effort to remain on time. The longer the race, them more the factor of maintaining an even pace has greater significance. The more we work hills and attempt to “burn off” the opposition, the greater will be the drain on our glycogen reserve. A marathon which sees the first half run in 1 hour 30 minutes and the second part in 1 hour 50 minutes has been badly executed. The favoured method is to run 51 per cent of one’s time for the first half and 49 per cent for the second half.
For races of all distances, from 5km to marathon and beyond, it is a good idea to draw up a tactical plan based on the answers to some pertinent questions:
- Am I short of training and not too fit? If the answer is yes, run three quarters of the distance of the race well within yourself and try to start passing others for the last quarter.
- Am I fit but not at my best yet? If so, run half the distance of the race comfortably and then start passing others to the finish.
- Am I very fit and at my peak? If so, run a quarter of the distance of the race will within yourself, and then start passing others to the end.
If difficulty is found in determining what part of the race one is in, calculate the winning time and apportion time accordingly. For example, if it is known that a 10km is usually run in 37 minutes and 30 seconds, the runner in (1) above will run steady for 28 minutes. The athlete in (2) will run steady for around 18½ minutes. And an athlete in category (3) will only be taking it steady for 9½ minutes before blasting through the field.
It is better to finish passing others rather than being passed by hordes in the last quarter of the race. Many athletes go out too fast in their races and are totally exhausted before the halfway is reached. That is not the way to record your best time and in an event like Ironman you are going to suffer.
Get to know what 8 minute mile pace (120secs/400m) feels like, what 7 minute mile pace feels like (105 secs/400), and 6 mins per mile (90 secs / 400m. This way you will quickly recognise what pace is good or bad for you. To do this you have to practice these different speeds with a watch.
In a recent 9 mile National Club Cross Country Championships, the 33 year old winner covered the 3 x 3 mile course in exactly 18 minutes each lap, overtaking 250 runners in the last 3 miles to be first home. Enough said!
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