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    Running Race Warm-up & Pacing Strategies

    Many people are discouraged after a running race because they didn't achieve the time they had hoped for. Sometimes this is due to overestimating the pace they can reasonably hold and sometimes it's because they did a poor job of warming up and pacing properly. Below are some suggestions for running the best race times possible, regardless of your conditioning level, by warming up properly and pacing the race correctly.

    Warm-up
    The basic idea of "the shorter the race, the longer the warm-up" is a good concept to go by. If it takes you a while to get going, then a longer warm-up may be necessary for a 5 or 10K. For longer races you should look at the first few miles of your race as a continuation of your warm-up and not start out too hot.

    Start about 30 minutes to race time
    Run 10-15 minutes EZ to elevate HR and warm muscles.
    Stretch 10 minutes (possibly in line for the porta-pottie). Photocopy the running stretches from Bob Anderson's Stretching book and have the sheet with you to remind you of the stretches to do. (Toss it in a trash can when done with it) Do 4-8 x 100m pick-ups. Build EZ leg speed without too much effort. These can be done right in front of the starting line with about 5 minutes to race start. This will keep your HR up near where it will be for the race. It will shock your system if you are standing around for 10 minutes before the race with a HR of 70, and then start the race running at 160+. Try to have the HR around 120-130 for the start so it is an easy transition up to racing HR.

    Race Strategies to hit your goal time
    Choose a goal time that is reasonable for you to achieve on that particular course and time of season. Be prepared to modify the goal time if conditions are tougher than usual, you are dealing with sickness, or some other issue that may affect peak performance. The goal should be to run the best possible race you can for THAT day, which means it may not necessarily be a PR for you to be happy with it.

    5k
    Write goal splits on your arm or hand ahead of time or get a pace bracelet. Get out smooth and light. Not Easy Pace should be about 10-15 seconds faster than you goal pace finish time
    Example: Goal Time: 21:45 (7:00 mile pace)
    Go out 1st mile in 6:45-6:50
    2nd mile about 5-10 over goal pace (7:05-7:10)
    3rd mile just slightly faster than 2nd mile (7:00-7:05)
    .1 finish - Go to Leg Speed & Lengthen stride. Pass someone. Don't get run down. Example of goal splits to write on your arm or hand for 21:45: 6:45
    7:10 - 13:55
    7:00 - 20:55

    10K
    Write goal splits on your arm or hand ahead of time or get a pace bracelet. Get out smooth and light. Not too easy Pace should be about 10-15 seconds faster than you goal pace finish time
    Example: Goal Time: 42:00 (7:00 mile pace)
    Go out 1st mile in 6:45-6:50
    2nd & 3rd mile about 5 seconds over goal pace (7:05)
    4th & 5th miles right at goal pace (7:00) Don't worry about your HR. Just hold the pace you need. 6th mile. Try to get back under goal pace. should not be more than 10 seconds slower than 1st mile. HR is HIGH! .2 finish - Go to Leg Speed & Lengthen stride. Pass someone. Don't get run down.

    Half Marathon
    Write goal splits on your arm or hand ahead of time or get a pace bracelet. Get out smooth and light. Should be very comfortable, but not totally holding back. Flow, don't push. Pace can be about 10-20 seconds faster than you goal pace finish time (but no more!)
    Example: Goal Time: 1:38.19 (7:30 mile pace)
    Go out 1st mile in 7:10-7:15
    2nd & 3rd mile about 5 seconds over goal pace (7:35). These should be your slowest miles of the entire race. HR should not be high 4th-10th miles right at goal pace (7:30). It's OK to be about 5 seconds faster than goal pace, but no more, or you are setting yourself up to die later. You will need to make slight adjustments to the pace if the course is rolling. Know the key miles where you may be a little slower than goal pace and where you can make it up on a faster mile with a downhill. 11-13 miles. Try to get slightly under goal pace. Don't worry about your HR. (It should be creeping up) Just go for it.
    .1 finish - Leg Speed! Pass someone. Don't get run down.

    Marathon
    Write goal splits on your arm or hand ahead of time or get a pace bracelet. Get out smooth and light. Should be very comfortable, but not totally holding back. Flow - don't push. Pace can be up to 10-20 seconds faster than you goal pace finish time (but no more!). This is not always possible if it is a very crowded start. Don't freak out and then blast the next few miles to make it up if you are a little behind pace. Chip away at the deficit gradually.
    Example: Goal Time: 3:23:12 (7:45 mile pace)
    Go out 1st mile in 7:25-7:35
    2nd-5th miles about 5-10 seconds over goal pace (7:50-55). These should be your slowest miles of the entire race. HR should not be high. Running cadence should be 90-96 with fairly small stride to prevent leg fatigue (like cycling in your small chain ring) 6th-20th miles right at or slightly below goal pace (7:45). It's OK to be 5-10 seconds faster than goal pace, but no more, or you are setting yourself up to die later. You will need to make slight adjustments to the pace if the course is rolling. Know the key miles where you may be a little slower than goal pace and where you can make it up on a faster mile with a downhill. 20-26 miles. Reality Check time. Hopefully you are feeling good and can maintain the pace or run slightly faster. Don't get too discouraged if you are fading and can't hold your goal pace. There will be many other people out there in the same boat. Try to enjoy the run and don't focus on the pains you may feel (in various places on your body). Good time to focus on proper running form and picking up your cadence. .2 finish - Leg Speed! Pass someone. Don't get run down.

    Additional Tips
    Try to get your mile splits on your watch. If you wear a Polar HR monitor. Set it to Lap Split Mode on the bottom (larger numbers) and Stopwatch on the top numbers (smaller). Just press the Red Split button at the beginning of the race and at each mile mark as you pass through. The watch will give you your split time, total cumulative time, and average HR for that split and then jump back to a rolling time for the next split.

    Evaluating the data after the race will help you set goals and racing strategies for your next event.

    With a basic Timex Triathlon watch you should also be able to get mile splits you can recall after the race.

    Here is a link to a Running Pace Chart to help you figure things out:

    http://www.races2run.com/Pace%20Chart%20-%20Marathon%20Sports.htm

    Learning to Pace
    Doing some track intervals will help teach you what a reasonable pace is for you to hold. Here are some example sets to help you determine your pace. Do the set after a warm-up similar to the race warm-up above.

    For a 5k
    Do 8 x 800 w/ 1:00 rest between. Try to hold even pace throughout. You should start out slightly slower than your average. Throw out your fastest and slowest repeat and average the middle 6. That is a pretty close estimate to you goal 5K pace. If you vary by more than 20 seconds you are poor at pacing.

    For a 10k
    Do 10 x 1K (2-1/2 laps) w/ 1:00-1:30 rest between. Slightly descend in sets of 2. Throw out your fastest and slowest repeat and average the middle 8. That is a pretty close estimate to you goal 10K pace. If you vary by more than 20 seconds you are poor at pacing.

    For a half marathon
    Do 7-8 x 2k (5 laps) w/ 1:30-2:00 rest between. You should start out slightly slower than your average. Throw out your fastest and slowest repeat and average the middle 5-6. That is a pretty close estimate to you goal Half marathon pace. If you vary by more than 20 seconds you are poor at pacing.

    For a marathon
    Do 5 x 2 mile repeats w/ 1:30-2:00 rest between. You should start out slightly slower than your average. Throw out your fastest and slowest repeat and average the middle 3. That is a pretty close estimate to you goal marathon pace. If you vary by more than 20 seconds you are poor at pacing.