Is there a certain race distance threshold where drafting etiquette matters? If there is little or no wind, is it important to do some of the pacing work? Would it matter in high school 1600m or 3200m races on the track?
I guess I am asking because long ago in high school, my typical race was where I would sit behind someone and then kick in the last 200m. I ran very few races where I did not employ this strategy and I was particularly good at it as a senior. I imagine that if I had not been injured as a junior, I might have branched out a bit more my senior year. I think that part of it was lack of confidence and or experience running from the front. I think that if I had run more than three meets as a junior, I would have been more willing to experiment as a senior.
There was one occasion where my league rival was likely trying to break me of this strategy. For several laps in a 3200m race, he would surge on the first turn and then slow sharply on the back stretch. The only way he could have been more clear would have been to pull into lane 2 when he slowed. (Actually, I am trying to recall if he might have done that.) I didn't waver in my tactics. :-[ (I had little imagination in my racing.) I still followed him throughout the race and kicked at the end.
So, would my tactics have been considered bad racing ettiquette? When I think back, I know I must have been a frustrating person to race. But, I also think that running from the front would have been playing to my weakness.
In my defense, the only time that I recall my coach ever giving me tactical advice, he reinforced my normal tactics. Basically he just stressed that I should not take the lead. I thought that it was odd advice at the time — considering that I so rarely did anything different. But that is another story. After the race, he told me some things that made me wonder years later if he and the coach of the host school might have had a wager on the race. 😮
I enjoyed this topic. I have a half marathon in a couple of weeks. I will keep these thoughts about drafting in mind — though I usually find myself running alone during the middle parts of longer races.