Thursday, August 11, 2011

Don’t be a fool or a coward on race day

Whenever you race _________ (marathon, ironman, half marathon, any distance event) don’t be a fool for the first half or a coward on the second half.

What a great line.

When on the starting line and the excitement of the race is upon you, it is so easy to throw the race plan out the window. If you are not careful, by the time you notice your pace it can be too late. Running minutes faster in the first few miles will rarely result in success. In fact, you will only have success if you were sandbagging on your tempo runs and you really are much faster.

But for the other 99% of any distance race, if you go out too fast you will crash and burn at some point in the later stages of the race. You might still have a successful time but it will not be your best time. So decide on a race pace and hold yourself to it at the start of your race regardless of how fast everyone else goes out. This will pay big dividends at the end of the race.

NYC Marathon

Don’t be a fool or a coward

If you don’t execute the proper pace during the first half of the event then the second half won’t matter. But let’s pretend you have gone out at ‘your’ race pace – not 20 seconds per mile faster, but ‘your’ race pace.

In a nutshell, don’t start the race like a jackrabbit when you are feeling fresh and excited. If you do, you will blow up and suffer in the last part of the race.

Now that you have run the first half of the race smart, the second half matters. This is where you can make a difference. This is when you get to gain momentum from others that have gone out too fast.

It is time to be brave. The race is getting hard but you are holding pace. The effort is higher but you continue to hold. You bargain with yourself – “Just hold to mile XX or just to the next light pole.” You keep making bets until the end.

And not being a coward? You don’t fade. You lay everything on the line. You don’t hold back. You finish the race strong. You can do more than you mind thinks. In the later stages of the race, you must make a decision to keep pace by digging deep.

It is a very simple phrase that speaks volumes –

“Don’t be a fool for the first half and don’t be a coward for the second half.”


it's all about pace said...

excellent line. Thanks James

Tales of Roads & Trails said...

This is great..I really need to follow this virtue and allow myself to set into "my" pace. I always feel like I go out too fast but, I don't slow down too much. either way HR tells you a whole other story.

Tri-James said...

I do like to train by heart rate but much prefer to race by pace. You can do so much more in a race situation - things you just can't do in training.

Running Librarian said...

Great post and so true!

Ransick said...

Great post! Overcoming the discomfort in the second half of the race is mostly mental. I need to learn to suck it up and go harder the second half for sure.

Nelly said...

Like others stated, this is a great post! I need to slow down a little at the start of races, I think I always run the 2nd half of a race slower than the 1st half.

Lindsay said...

My 5k and 8k PR's this year were both races that I "ran smart". I ignored the temptation to try and hang with all the people who ran by me and ran my own pace. It of course paid off when I passed many of those people within the next mile as they were already fading! :)