Think of it like a leash, once you break from that guy in front of you more than a few meters to join back up with him is extremely difficult, and you will probably not see him again in that race.
Great analogy. Once that leash gets broken, it's a lot harder to catch them.
Mostly though it comes down to your body type. For me, a more strict long distance guy with not much kick to speak of, going hard from a decent ways out, 500m in a mile, 600 in a 2, 800 in a 5k, has helped me to eliminate guys that could beat me in the 100m sprint at the end. Or vice versa, stay with somone till the end if you know you can beat them in the last 100. Just know your body and it's limits, and you'll never go wrong.
Precisely. Like you, I've always been the one who goes early because I knew I couldn't take someone with 100 to go. I could at least attempt to run that kick out of guys or break that leash by going early.
Knowing your best strategy against the competition you face won't always result in a win because the competition might just have a better combination of fitness and strategy but it will give you the best chance you have at success.