Coaching 101 – Racing and Pacing

Sunday is our annual Lakers 5-25 run which has morphed into a 7-42 run. The option of a 42km run gives people the chance to run a qualifier for Wonderland if it goes ahead this year and also to go the journey on the same day that the Gold Coast marathon would have been happening. 

This run is unique in that it is run over a 7km course but competitors have the choice of doing 1-6 laps (or a 10km loop if they wish). Everyone will also vary in how they are approaching the run; some are going for a PB, while others are testing a pacing plan or how fatigue grows with distance. This means when you line up at the start line you really won’t know who you are running against (unless you are able to force it out of them).

So the event is all about your ability to run to your own pacing plan and not get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Just because you finished with the same time as someone else in the 5km TT doesn’t mean that in this event you will be able to go with them (as you may be running different distances).

As a rough guide if you can run 5 km in 20 min there is just:

  • 8 seconds between your 5 and 10 km pace,
  • 13 seconds between your 10 and 21 km pace and
  • 11 seconds between your half and full marathon pace.

The small gap between paces is one of the main reasons why people blow up on race day.

Most think nothing of going out 5-10 sec per km too fast for their 5-10 km races yet there really is only one possible outcome – slowing down! Your 5 km pace is your 5 km pace. At the end of it you can’t run another 5 km. Likewise your half marathon pace is specific to a half marathon. If you are running with others simply because you like their company, but at 10 sec per km too fast it will end in chronic fatigue well before the finish line. The best marathoners even or even negative split their races. You can’t go out at half marathon pace because it feels good and expect to finish well if you are running a marathon. Ideally we are looking for around 51% of your time in the first half and 49% in the second half. This should include a good hard push to the finish line.

So it really is up to you to go into the event with a clear pacing plan for the distance you want to run. This could be built around HR, pace or even power. If you don’t want to use numbers then feel is another option. Break the course up into sections, where the first 3-5 km is all about deliberately trying to slow yourself down, up to half-way it should feel comfortable, the next 30% should let you know you are in a race (perception of effort increases but it is not hard) and the last 20% is where the hurt comes in. If you feel as if you have pushed hard before this point then you have nowhere to go- hard is hard and you don’t want to be there to early. We want you to be able to push hard and chase people down over the back end.

For those who are running a straight 42 km at IM pace they should experience all of these phases. The initial part will seem too easy, then it becomes a normal running feeling and then finally it might get a little hard.

We haven’t had a chance to race for a while so it will be interesting to see who is able to control their enthusiasm and stick to a plan. Every race even a simulation is a chance to test things out and see where you and your plan is at.

For those who want to get ready for the first duathlon of the season next week, there will be some athletes doing a ride and run session. While the distances will be longer it gives you a chance to go through the process.

The weather looks like it will be perfect for Sunday so let’s see where everyone is at.


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