Contributed by Tim Flahaven
A lot of us will be doing some serious racing in preparation for our fall marathon. The question often becomes, how fast should I run? What type of effort should I exert?
For 5ks and 10ks we like to encourage people to give a full effort. The 5k is a nasty little race that has about one half mile (the first half mile) of pleasantness and then it gets rough from there. But it is only 2.5 miles of hell so just suck it up and do it. The 10k is similar, with smooth fluid miles up until mile 5 when the scuffling occurs. But both race distances are such that we can recover quickly. Ten milers and 15ks and half marathons are where we need to be smart. We typically like people to give a "measured effort" and hold some in reserve until the very end. In other words, if we are using the 10 miler or a half marathon as a smart prep step (as we should) for a fall marathon, we want to use these races to accomplish the following:
1. Have it be a dress rehearsal for the big race, including testing what we will eat before the race, what we will wear, and how we will fuel during the race.
2. Even splits. Practice now going out and running even, even splits.
3. Pace yourself just a little off of what you think will constitute for you a complete effort. You do not want to cross the line in one of these longer preparatory races and be completely wrung out. You should cross the line feeling that if the race had 1 additional mile left in it you could maintain pace. This is very hard for many experienced runners to do, but the good ones do it all the time. They give a measured effort which is a good accounting of where their training is at but they don't lay it all on the line.
4. Finish very strong. The last 400 meters you should be surging. If you have given that measured effort you will have enough in the tank to drop the hammer the last 400 meter and pass other runners. You want to feel just a little of the pain that you would over the last four miles of the marathon. And you want to deal with it now.
5. Warm down. Move after the race for at least a mile and then immediately begin all the post-race routine, including taking on carbs but also protein, stretching later in the day and utilizing recovery devices to regain leg snap.
Often times we are asked to supply people with a "goal time" for their preparatory races. We need to know a little about your training and your fall goal times and other factors in order to do this. But if you feel it would be helpful to get an idea of what you should be shooting for in a race like the Scioto 10 miler or the Emerald City quarter or half marathon, give Tim, Jeff or Jenn a call and they can help you out.