Racing Strategy: Start out fast or slow?

Let’s take a look at one example of starting out fast (9:21 pace) and starting out slow (11:05 pace). Both ended with relatively same time (within 21 seconds of each other, official time). Starting out fast certainly made for an unpleasant rest of the run, was harder to keep myself motivated and in the end didn’t gain any time. The fast start had four +25 increase in pace interspersed throughout the entire race. When comparing, the fast start was less steady of a pace than the slow start. You can see miles 8-13 of the slow start varied less than +/- 10 min/mile aside from mile 12 where I got a second wind to get around the crowd of runners or perhaps it was the anticipation of the finish.

Slow Start Indy Mini 2:11:04

Slow Start Indy Mini 2:11:04

Fast Start Oakland 2:10:53

Fast Start Oakland 2:10:53

Next race for a time, I’ll start out slow, but perhaps not as slow as a 11min/mile pace.

What’s your strategy for the start of a race, hold back or go with the flow?

Oakland Half Taper Week

Taper week starts tomorrow, one week before race day. The Jeff Galloway Half Marathon training plan (Time Goal Runners) calls for 5 miles. This past week has been a taper week for me since I’ve been home with a cold. I didn’t skip my training runs but did reduce from what I have been doing (from 5-6 down to 2.5-3 miles). This cold happened at the best time, the weekend right in between two of my three half marathons this month.

I’m really excited about the Oakland Half Marathon on the 23rd. I was/am hoping for a PR but if that doesn’t happen (I skipped most of the speed workouts), I will still be pleased at the strides in fitness I’ve made this year. The training was different this time around – weekday short runs were longer due to a local running buddy and every few weeks, I incorporated hills into the short weekday runs.

Taper week for me includes mental prep: What am I doing the day before the race, what will I eat the day before and planning logistics for getting to the race.

For next year’s half, I will certainly follow this training plan again and adhere more closely to the speed workouts. In addition, a running buddy with similar ability certainly has proven to be important for increasing endurance and confidence.

What is your favorite part of taper week?