Going Out Too Fast

With my fourth marathon three days away, there is something I must prevent: GOING OUT TOO FAST! Of course speed is relative, but I tend to be one of those runners that gets swept up in the start line energy and burst out the gates.

Of course by burst out the gates, I mean 10-30 seconds faster per mile than I should be running. Sorry to break all your hopes that I run 6 min. miles, but I generally cruise at 10 min. miles. Shorter races or runs I enjoy 8-9 min. miles, but for the full distance I should be clocking 10s.

How to solve this:
One: I have signed up (for the first time) to run with a pace group. There are usually pace groups at events where a trained professional runs the race at a pace (typically even splits) to get you to the finish line at a certain time. At Big Sur, Cliff Bar will be sponsoring several pace groups with finish times of: 3:40, 3:50, 4:00, 4:15, 4:30, 5:00, and 5:30. I'll be shadowing the 4:30 group.

Pace leaders generally run with a stick and have a flag or balloon at the top with their estimated finish time on top. (see Betty above, thank you Flickr) You've probably seen a giant group following or running with one person. These spectacular individuals know exactly how to run a race and finish it at a projected finish time. For me, I'd like to finish under 5, thrilled with 4:30, shooting for 4:45. Since I tend to take walk breaks (at a 9:1 run:walk ratio) I will simply shadow the group letting them get slightly in front of me but keeping them in my sights. If they happen to get far enough in front of me, then that is OK, considering they should finish 15 mins. in front of me. But if they can keep me on pace early, then that is what I'm looking for.

Two: My Garmin watch will let me know how fast I am running at a min per mile pace. Before, I was always having to look at my watch after each mile and having to do the math to calculate how fast I was going. Now I can see how fast I am going throughout the entire mile to know whether or not I am on pace. This I believe to be the difference maker. 
There are also pace bands that can be helpful... it allows you (based on your estimated finish time) to see the exact time you should be at for each mile. These are beneficial if you do not have a watch that will tell you your min. per mile pace. They're pretty cool and it includes tips to help keep your pace band dry (see right side bar on link above).

Shooting out at the start is a common challenge for many runners. Pace groups are common place at most marathons, sometimes being separated by 15 min finish times. These can be great groups to judge your finish time if you see them on the course. If you'd like to participate in a pace group, look at the race's website to see if they have sign ups (Cliff.com has a complete list of events they are participating in) or visit the sponsoring booth at the events expo.

I'm getting really excited for this weekend.

1 comment:

TNTcoach Ken said...

Don't just shadow the group, become a part of it. I love pace groups in the beginning, they start with such large groups and towards the end it's just a handful. Good luck with your pace!