Coaching 101 – Marathon

Next weekend is the Adelaide marathon. While there have been doubts over whether it would happen, it looks as if they have come up with a strategy that the health department approve of. This means it will be a marathon unlike any other you have competed in.

The main change will be that the race will start with a trickle instead of a mass or wave start. This means a small number of athletes will start together every 10 or so seconds. The aim is to keep people separated on the course, to avoid running in the slip stream of others.

While initially this could be viewed as a negative as you will lose any advantage that comes with drafting the positive for most is that it will see you running around others for a lot more of the race. You should constantly have someone going past or someone who you are chasing down in front. This should help keep the brain engaged which is important as the event grinds on.

The other advantage is that it means you can run your own race. Provided you have your pacing strategy down pat, being able to run without the distraction of others who can often push you over your limit early on, is always a bonus.

There are many predictor tools around to work out what time you could hope to do. Our 5km TT time from Tuesday can help work out what is possible. The aim then is to set up a pacing plan that delivers this time for you. For me this means setting up a plan that sees you negative split the run. Yes it seems counter intuitive but you will need to start out a fraction slower than race pace and then aim to bring the back half home a little quicker.

The other challenge is that the hills and potential wind and heat on the day can also affect things. If any of these elements are in play then you will have to add some time to your goal pace.

Likewise if you don’t have a lot of endurance in you might be better off slowing down your goal time by 10 or more seconds per km early on.

Otherwise you can use HR and feel to help guide you. This however depends on you knowing your maximum HR or goal HR for race day. Another option is to just lock in your HR after 5km and simply run to that through to the final 10 or so km, where you open up and push for home

Regardless of your event distance or pace every race should hurt over the back end. So make sure you have some mental skills ready to apply when the inevitable pain and self-doubt kicks in- break the course-up, focus on technique, count cadence, and use those around you to lift you up. Those who successfully embrace the pain are the ones who inevitably achieve their goal.

Good luck and see you on Sunday to test out a few of our pacing strategies

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