1 December 2007
Marathon Training - Race Pace Strategy
Some of our Las Vegas Half Marathon running group met up this morning for a final short stretch run before race day… Nice and easy. Meeting with the group gave me a chance to discuss my race pace strategy.
- Type: Run
- Date: 12/01/2007
- Time: 08:40:00
- Total Time: 00:16:37.00
- Average Heart rate: 140
- Max Heart rate: 160
- Calories: 211
- Distance: 1.8 miles
- Average Pace: 9:13.85/mile
Originally I was thinking of running a “easy gradual negative split” style strategy. Well, I’ve done some more thinking about this strategy, and have decided that attempting a pure negative split targetting a 3:15 finish time doesn’t leave enough room for problems. So I’ve devised a different strategy.
The fact is, there’s no value being conservative on this race. I know that even if I completely blow up, I’ll still end up setting a new marathon PR, since my last marathon included walking the last 3.2 miles on a broken heel. No, the real goal here is to qualify for Boston, and that means running a fast race… but a race that is a pace I know I can handle in the short and mid distance, and probably can handle at marathon distance.
I know I can run 7:18/mile for 12.75 miles… but my most recent run at this distance and average speed included about 6 miles at 7:00-7:08/mile pace. Running that fast is probably too fast, and will impact my ability to go the distance. Keeping my pace around 7:20/mile should be doable, while still giving me about a 3 min cushion in the overall race.
Assuming I start the first two miles slow, at around 8:00-7:55/mile, then kick it up to 7:20/mile… if I can get to mile 20 while maintaining the 7:20/mile pace, then I will be in good shape to achieve my goal. By this stage in the race I would have enough advantage against the clock that slowing to 7:40/mile pace for the last 6.2 miles would still allow me to come across the finish line with a qualifying time.
If I can maintain my pace through mile 21, I could slow to 7:45/mile for the last 4.2 miles. Keeping my pace through mile 23, would allow me to slow to 8:08/mile for the final 3.2 miles. So, this strategy of running slightly slower than my mid-distance tempo pace as deep into the race I can gives me a nice safety net in case I really hit the wall in the late stage of the race.
But what about the best case scenario? Well, with this approach, if I am still feeling good at mile 20, then I can start to pick up my pace, and further pad my Boston Qualify goal time. For example, if I get to mile 20, still feeling strong, and I can push my pace to 7:00/miles for the last 10k, then I could finish at 3:11:19. At this point, I’m even cutting into Phil’s chances significantly, since I’ll be approaching his Half Marathon walking PR of 3:08-and change.
So, the strategy is clear in my head… start slow for the first mile and a half or so, then kick into slightly slower than tempo mode. If I’m still feeling strong at 20 miles, then go for it… no point in leaving anything on the table.
Wish me luck.