This morning after my 5 miler (oh it feels so good to be back running), I took some time to reflect on my running this past year. There have been failures (my Boston DNF) and successes (my 5 mile victory) and I have learned a lot about myself as a runner. Although the race last weekend was not a PR, it was a personal best with respect to course difficulty and my mental fortitude. The same can be said for the half marathon I ran earlier this year. I know I could have run sub 1:35 on a normal course but that race was like an obstacle course. It was also the first race where I really put into use the power of the mind. I really wanted to place in the top 3 but instead, I was 4th overall female. Again, not a PR but a personal best in its own way.
I started thinking about the 5 mile race I did in July and how hard it was physically. That got me thinking about pacing. Generally when I run short races, my pacing strategy is the following: go with a pace that is painful enough to hold for 3 miles (or 5 in this case). In other words, go hard from the start. For the 5 mile race, I didn’t have a goal pace. I just knew I wanted to win. My splits were all over the place: 6:40, 7:17, 7:00, 6:33, and 7:16. That last mile was one long steep hill and my legs were pretty dead. I had done a horrible job of pacing. I need to do better.
Every current world record, from the 1500m to the marathon, has been set by an athlete running negative splits. In fact, according to research by South African sport scientists Tim Noakes, Ross Tucker and Mike Lambert, in the history of runs that set new world records at 5,000m and 10,000m, only once has any kilometer other than the first or last been the fastest of the race… A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated that in order to optimize 5K performance, runners should start the first mile of a 5K race at paces 3 to 6 percent faster than their goal race pace. When test subjects ran 3 to 6 percent faster the first mile, settled in to goal pace for the middle miles, and kicked the last 800m, their finishing times were, on average, 29 seconds faster than those runners who started slower than, or at, goal race pace.
Negative splits. That seems to be the key. Based on that, I’ve got some work to do.
As I hope to take my running to a new level in 2013, successfully pacing myself is a goal I’m adding to the list, in particular for shorter races. 2012 has been a year of learning. I’m planning on 2013 as being the year of PRs.
A year in review…
Why are race photos so unflattering?
Happy Trails and Happy Running,