It doesn’t matter if you are heading into your first race or you are a seasoned racing veteran, having a pacing strategy is very important to being successful. If you don’t go into a race with a plan, your adrenaline will often times make you feel like you can run way faster than you should, causing you to run out of steam half way through your race. I ran across another great article from Cometitor.com that talks about three different pacing strategies and when you should use them.
If you are newer to running, you typically are not sure what you are capable of running, so one of the better strategies for you is to run even splits. This is where you would run at a single pace for the whole race. In your first few races, it is more important to understand how your body will react during a race than to try and do too much. That typically results in burning out mid-race or getting injured. This strategy can also be useful for seasoned runners who are running marathons or ultra-marathons, where you keep a consistent pace for a long period of time that is sustainable.
“Hold On For Dear Life”
This approach is best utilized on races of 10k or shorter. If you have been training hard and are hungry for a PR, you might consider this approach. You would start out faster than your goal pace and “hold on for dear life” as the race progresses and you start to struggle. Going into a race with this approach, keep in mind that it will get tough and you might need to muster every bit of strength to make it to the end.
This approach typically would entail running 5-15 seconds faster per mile than your goal pace for the first 4 miles of a 10k. You would try to keep that faster pace if you feel good at that point. If you are struggling, do your best to slow down as little as possible. For a 5k, you would start 10-15 seconds faster per mile than your goal pace and reevaluate after the first 2 miles. In a 5k, if you are feeling good, maintain that faster pace and try to step it up at the finish.
One of the best ways to get a PR, weather you are a beginner or an elite athlete is to run a negative split race. This is where you run the second half of the race at a faster pace than the first half of the race. This is great for races ranging from one mile to half marathon distances. You would start off the same way as an even split race, but speed up in the last 10-15% of the race, with a strong finish in the last .25 mile. If you struggle at the end of a race, start off a little slower than your goal pace and pick it up part way through. One reason why this approach is so effective is that you can save some of your energy for the end of the race. If you start out too fast, you will burn through all of your available carbs before you can finish.
One great tool that could help with keeping a negative split are pace bands. They will tell you what your pace for each mile should be based on your goal. You can add pictures or inspirational words as well. Check out Races2Remember where you can get 3 bands for $7.50. Not a bad deal and it will help you stay on track.
Going into a race with a plan is the best recipe for success. I want to thank Competitor.com
(click herefor their article) for the great information and hope that you will find this information helpful in obtaining a new PR. Let me know what race strategy you typically utilize and how it is working.
Pictures: (1) http://photos2.demandstudios.com/DM-Resize/photos.demandstudios.com/getty/article/228/173/159302282_XS.jpg?w=1200&h=630&crop_min=1&keep_ratio=1 (2) http://www.races2remember.com/PaceBands.php?sh=1&
Data Reference: http://running.competitor.com/2015/04/training/3-pacing-strategies-to-pr-your-next-race_126544