6 April 2011 – Pacing

I raced in the 16mile Kingston Breakfast Run on 27 March.  Just like the 10mile race preceding it I wasn’t quite 100% but I put everything into it, holding an optimal and sustained effort across the distance.  If I could average a <=6mins/mile pace for the whole 16miles (<=1hr36 overall) then I would still be on course for my first main target of the year – a <2hr45 Marathon at London.  I set these first two race targets based on the Macmillan Calculator (-1min to be safe) and a little research on The Power of 10 of those that had done the 16m event and London Marathon in previous years.

I wore my Asics Hyperspeed4 racing trainers at Kingston and a new pair of Nike elite compression socks.  I originally intended to race the London Marathon in these (200g) hyperspeeds but I’m now having second thoughts after getting a fair amount of stiffness from pounding damage on harder surfaces.  During the winter I was running most sessions in my old hyperspeeds and feeling comfortable albeit with an adapted ‘ultra’ running technique (shorter/faster strides with a low drag and flat footed strike).  This technique naturally switched as I moved back to more faster road running and I’m now having to consider other (shoe) options.  I have a heavier (300g) asics training shoe and a pair of Newton Gravitys at my disposal.  The Newtons may not be a bad idea as I have already done an Ironman marathon (IMUK10) in them and they will work alongside my natural mid to forefoot strike.  I can add a heel support for later in the race when I adopt the run technique to counter stiffness and fatigue.  However, they will weigh 325g (300g shoes, 25g inserts).  An extra 125g per foot is a little more than I would like over distance.  Pfitzinger & Douglas’ guidelines for racing a marathon in flats/racing shoes are a) weigh under 73kg, b) <=2:40(male) racing time, c) history of being injury free, and d) good biomechanics.  Unfortunately I can only satisfy a) and potentially d).

There will be none of this Galloway run/walk strategy, I wouldn’t even do this in an ultra race unless I’m on a steep hill.  I find it much more efficient and economical to switch between forms of running technique on flat courses and/or make use of cambers and undulating surfaces to give the muscle groups a respite.  I will have painkillers to take the edge off any pains towards the end, and the compression socks will reduce some of the stresses passing through the calfs and knees.  In the 10mile race I experienced a fair amount of pain in the quads and hamstrings, so I’m considering compression shorts, and will check out what’s on offer at the London Marathon Expo.

Kingston Breakfast Run (27 Mar 11)
Time : 1:36:42 (16M split = 1:35:26-1:36:00)
Position : 7th/1400

The race distance was not exactly 16m but a little over (about 200-250m) and the mile markers may have all been a little short.  Anyway, the plan was to pace myself to the mile markers, starting with a 6:05/M for the first mile, then 5:55/M for the rest of the first 8m lap.  I’d then try and hold 6:00/M for the second lap.  Based on last years results a Top10 would require around 1HR35, so I beared that in mind and kept a count of the runners in front of me from the gun.

During the first mile out of town I kept it contained around 12-15th place, posting 6:05. Something I wasn’t expecting was a stitch from miles 1-4 which was quite uncomfortable.  I tried to relax as much as possible while holding the pace and luckily it disappeared just after Hampton Court Bridge.  Once this passed I started to feel quite comfortable again and, thanks to a good pacer, moved through the field to 7th.  The following mile splits to the end of the first lap were consistently within 5:53-5:58/M.  Race nutrition was kept to a minimum as I tried out 300cals of gel in 2 x flasks on a racing belt.  I had a few gulps at the two aid stations on course and about 200ml of lucozade after lap1.  Overall around 300-400ml water.  I knew this was a risky strategy which may have contributed to slower miles at the end but I wanted to run with limited weight as well as let the stitch settle.  My nutrition strategy for London will be a bit more text-book.

Mile 9 saw the quickest split of 5:44, followed by 5:58 on mile 10.  I was now 1min4 inside my 1HR36 target finishing time but a stiffness was developing in my legs, and although the pace started to drop by only a few secs/mile I had to put a lot more effort in.  The final 3miles home were into a head wind and required dodging of slower runners (on their first lap of the 16miles).  At least this was good practise for the London Marathon!

Based on the mile markers I reached 16miles in 1:35:26, although my Garmin placed it around 1:36:00.  The finishing time was recorded as 1:36:42, but that was for an extra 0.12miles in the town.  I was a little annoyed that the course wasn’t more accurate with the overall distance or mile markers but I know I’m around the 1HR36 mark anyway.

A sub 2HR45 marathon time enables you to enter the next two subsequent marathons in the championship/elite pen.  That’s a good incentive as well as it being a milestone time.  The pacing required for this is <=6:18/M.  It’s nice to know I can run at Kingston+20secs pace per mile, but there’s obviously a bit more to it than that.  It can very much depend on the individual and race day conditions. 

I always falter in the second half of a running race, and never negative split.  If I have a specific target time then I always aim to put a few seconds in the bank.  This can also act as a safety net should something go wrong later.  A head wind will also have an impact.  A friend told me that a strong head wind coming down the embankment at last years London Marathon cost him a couple of mins.  Just missing out on a sub-2HR45 overall.  I’ll be checking the weather report the day before and may adjust my pacing accordingly.

At the moment I’m looking to start on around 6:10/M pace (no point holding back in such a huge field as it means more overtaking later).  The first three miles out of Greenwich include some downhills, so I expect to average around 6:00-6:10 here, before settling down to 6:12-6:15/M for the first half-marathon, and a split time of 1:21:45-1:22:00.  I’ll then drop down to 6:18/M for the remainder of the race knowing I have a 60-75sec cushion to use up on the Embankment should I need it.

The marathon is now under two weeks away.  On Sunday I did a 17mile run in the asics flats starting @ 7:45/M and building to 6:45/M.  The cardio-v was fine but the legs became stiff and sore again.  I took Monday as a complete rest day and will do the same on either Friday or Saturday.  The other days will see plenty of training including swimming and light cycling.  The taper doesn’t start until next week.

Next Events
Sun  17 Apr – London Marathon
Sat 7 May – Malvern Hills Ultra (54M)
Sat 11 Jun – Sri Chinmoy 10km (tbd)


One thought on “6 April 2011 – Pacing

  1. Detailed as ever. You pay so much attention to the small stuff, I’m sure you’ll get what you’re looking for.

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