Training Effectively Part 2: Proper Pacing in Racing

In honor of the upcoming Bolder Boulder 10k I will focus in this post on proper pacing in racing. After spending months preparing for an important race, it is critically important that you are able to actually execute on race day. Most of us go into a goal race with a particular desired pace in mind. The ability to remain patient in the beginning stages of the race and to methodically put down the appropriate mile splits will enable you to achieve your goal. Furthermore, racing at higher elevations (such as the Bolder Boulder, St George marathon and others) means that you must not go into oxygen debt too early in the race. This is also referred to as “redlining” and once you’ve done it, you’ve ended any chances of reaching your goal that day. Patience and self control are critical in the early stages of a race.

In the Bolder Boulder 10k, the difficulty of the course makes smart racing even more important. Specifically, in the first mile of the race, you will want to be about 10-15 seconds slower than your desired goal pace. This is partly because the early sections of the course are slightly uphill. If you have trained correctly, you should know what desired 10k race pace feels like. Stay just on the easier side of this pace in terms of how you feel. You will want to feel in control while still working methodically. As I’ve said before, 10k race pace should feel in the beginning like “controlled hard work”. Later in the race, it feels a bit harder than that! But early on you should feel that you’re working but that you could maintain pace throughout.

Miles 2-4 of the Bolder Boulder are essentially climbing with a few short downhill sections. You will still, in these miles, be slightly slower than goal race pace due to the relentless climbing. Without straining, use every downhill section to gain some time on the clock. Open up your stride and let gravity do the work. When you reach another uphill, relax a little and try to run smoothly with good form. Concentrate on running tall, good arm swing, a shorter, quicker stride and telling yourself to be fast but relaxed.

The four mile marker is the highest point of the course and your goal is to reach this spot feeling like you can still really race. Use mile 5 as an opportunity to get a lot of time back. Open up your stride, move quickly on the downhills and focus on catching people ahead of you. Do not unduly strain but concentrate on good speed and form. The 6th and final mile is all about mental focus, determination and guts. On Folsom, as you head toward the finish, focus on catching as many people as you can. Think “quick feet” and remember all the hard training you’ve done.
The last quick hill up into the stadium is just one hill repeat. Again, focus on running tall, good arm swing, and a quicker, shorter stride to get you up and over. Then, enjoy that last sprint to the finish.

Remember: no one enters a race planning to run poorly. But when the gun goes off, it’s easy to get carried away and run too fast due to adrenaline and the impatience of the runners around you. Don’t do it! You remember that you have trained well for this day, that you know what pace you’re supposed to run and how that is supposed to feel. Anyone can run quickly in the beginning of a race. It is the people who are patient and smart who run fast all the way through to the end, thereby achieving the desired outcome.
Enjoy the race!!!

4 Responses to “Training Effectively Part 2: Proper Pacing in Racing”

  1. Doug Says:

    Excellent post! Racing any race, from a 400 to a marathon, is about exercising patiences. Going out too fast is setting yourself up for failure!

  2. DRMura Says:

    Thanks Kim! All great to know going into my first BB. Feels good to be back running with you all!

  3. Rich Says:

    Nice, now we will see if I can put this in the gray matter and in the heart.

  4. Rich Says:

    So, don’t try and run your fasted pace on mile 4, got it, a bit late. Thanks for all the advise we get, even if we don’t listen.

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