I've had a few people ask me in the recent weeks about my racing strategy. Do you just go out and run crazy? Start easy and progress to faster pace? Stick to even paces? At first, I had to think about it. I haven't been as goal oriented with my racing until this past year. So, I can't say I've ever had a racing strategy until now.
(You've probably noticed I'm a bullet points person...so here goes...)
- The Start. In the past, I've considered myself to have that all-too-common problem of starting out fast. A friend helped me realize that maybe it wasn't so much the race adrenaline but the fact that you have to maneuver through the race crowd. We all know there are people in these race corrals that shouldn't be! With that being said, I'll probably, in some form or fashion, always start too fast.
- Negative Splits/Progressive Run. This is typically something I do by accident or on shorter runs. I NEVER intentionally do this at races. How do know at which pace to start?! Bear with me...if I'm running a half marathon and want to average 9 min/mile, do I run a third of it at 9:20, a third at 9:00, and the rest at 8:40? If I translate that to my PR half, that would be running 8:00 then 7:40 then 7:20. I can't imagine be able to do that! I know there are a bazillion ways to negative split or progressively run, but, in my head, it doesn't make sense to intentionally do it for a race. If I'm going to run within 5-10 seconds of my goal average, I might as well be running my goal average.
- Even Pace. I have this fear of starting slower than my average (as described above) and getting tired anyway. Therefore, not being able to speed up at the end. Because of this, I tend to side with the even pace method. I take my goal pace and try to stick as close to it as possible. I personally think this method is the best for courses that you aren't familiar with or courses with changing terrain. What if you are planning a progressive/negative split race and the second half is full of hills?! That might make the race feel really tough if you have to pick up your pace faster than you're used to in addition to tackling the hills. I go into a race knowing that I may slow down or speed up slightly at certain points. There are so many factors to take into account that it just doesn't make sense in my head to risk starting too slow. (THIS IS JUST ME. DON'T READ THIS AND GET OFFENDED IF YOU'RE A NEGATIVE SPLITTER...well, I guess you can get offended but keep it to yourself! OR tell me why it makes sense to you)
- The Finish. I'm still working on this one. Historically, the end of races are tough but I've really improved this year and have had some of my fastest miles at the end of my races. I think my mindset recently has been that I just want to get it over with so I speed up so that I can just get to the end and collapse/cry.
So, that's me.
What is your racing strategy?