Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hold the pace, improve your race

I heard from my friend and running advisor, CK, after I'd posted about last Sunday's 8K race. He was convinced that my stamina issue was related to the pace I'd maintained over the first three miles. My initial reaction was to debate this because I'd maintained the same pace pretty successfully in both my 4 miler in April and my 5K in May. But I think he was right. I know I can run a 5K at 8:33 and a 4 mile race at 8:50. Add another mile to that and I finished last Sunday's 8K with a 9:00 pace. So clearly my performance degrades with each mile after the first three.

I was only passed by one or two people in the 5K and that happened in the final 400 meters to the finish line. I was passed by a lot more people in the final mile of the 4-mile race and in miles 4 and 5 of the 8K. I experienced more than one "Where did they come from?" moment in reaction to hearing fast footsteps behind me as we moved toward the end of the race..

CK said that holding back on your pace is an effective race strategy, especially for a 5 mile distance. Perhaps, instead of 8:25,  if I'd maintained closer to an 8:50 to 9 minute pace through the first three miles I'd have had enough in reserve to pass instead of being passed. It's worth testing that theory. This weekend I'm planning to try one of my long runs starting at a moderate pace and then start increasing my speed as I get closer to the end.

I may find that this helps or that I'm simply losing significant energy after 4 or 4 miles due to a need to improve my level of conditioning. But when accomplished runners like CK give me advice, I listen.

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