Pacing lessons

As I’ve stated in earlier posts, I’ve always had a problem with not pacing myself correctly on long runs or races.  I start too fast and then pay for it heavily at the end.  I had always believed that I could start fast and gain some “extra time” so that when I slow down towards the end, I’ll finish at the pace I want.  I am thankful to say that I have finally realized my theory is completely wrong.  After the SI Half a couple of weeks ago, it clicked that I REALLY need to slow down and pace myself (discussed in Rookie Mistake).  


Here is how I paced myself and what I learned from my 30 miler:



By the numbers:
– It took me 4:17:30 to complete (not including 5x that I had to stop – once to fix my socks which had slipped beneath the back of my heel (I need to find socks that do not do this!), twice to pull out power gels that were in my camelbak, once to call Paul to tell him I needed more water, and once to drink the water/powerade that Paul had for me – the total time of “stopped time” was about 7 min)
– Overall pace was 8:34
– I ran negative splits – the first 15 mi were covered in 129:13 (8:36 pace); second 15 mi were covered in 128:04 (8:32 pace)
– My fastest miles were 8:19 (mile 19), 8:21 (mile 14), 8:23 (mile 23), and 8:24 (mile 30!)
– My slowest miles were 8:47 (mile 26), 8:46 (miles 4 and 28), and 8:45 (mile 1)
– The chart below shows my pace per mile – as well as my pace per 5 mile segment.  My slowest 5-mile segment was the first – miles 1-5 – which shows me that when I start slow, I end faster!!



Takeaways:

– Starting slow – and maintaining an easy, comfortable, steady pace (with no mile being run faster or slower than 15 sec from my average time) – is the key to success on a long run
– There is the belief that the infamous “hitting the wall” is inevitable in a marathon or long run.  So what often happens is what I used to do – you try to build up as much extra time as you can early on so when you hit the wall, you can still run the pace you were hoping.  If you run much faster than your target pace too early, you WILL hit the wall.  The fast pace too early is actually what causes the collapse at the end of the run.  But, if you maintain an even pace, you will never encounter the wall and may actually be able to pick up the pace at the end.  And trust me – that makes the entire run so much more enjoyable and fun to run!
– Although there were numerous points during the run when I felt great and wanted to pick up the pace, I forced myself to slow down 
– From my experience during races, it is extremely demotivating to have to significantly slow down at the end – not only do I feel like crap but I’m also getting passed by tons of other runners.  It has nothing to do with competing with them and trying to beat them.  It’s just hard to swallow to have each step hurt so much while all the other runners look and seem so happy.  The end of a race should be happy – you are almost done and all of your training and hard work is about to pay off. But you’ll never experience that happiness at the end if you don’t appropriately pace yourself


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