I think that the best strategy is to maximize your fitness and mental focus. If you're fit and focused, then you have a lot of flexibility in your strategy and you are less likely to despair if another runner makes a move. I think that those factors are far more likely to separate you from the competition than a strategem. Strategy can make things a bit easier though.
Absolutely. If you're not fit and confident, no strategy is going to work. If you are fit and confident, you may have a lot of options. It's just a matter of picking the best one.
I find it interesting that part of Ryan's strategy was to promote an appearance of strength. I like that strategy myself. I believe that if you appear strong, other runners may not even test you. It's much easier to ward off the attack that never comes.
Precisely my plan of attack. Never show weakness. If you show strength, people will have less confidence in their ability to chase you down and may not risk making a move that they think has a low potential of paying off. If you show weakness, suddenly there is an upside to taking the risk so they are more likely to do it.
I ran a 5K several years ago on an out and back course with three corners. Two corners were fairly near the start/finish and one corner was near the turnaround. I led most of the race as part of a pack of 5-6 runners, but I briefly slipped to third or fourth at the turnaround. As the leader rounded the corner closest to the turnaround on the way back, I observed that he gained a step or two on the guy behind him. Assuming that this phenomenon occurred at every corner, I decided to take advantage of it later in my push to the finish. There were two more corners remaining — one about 600m from the finish and one about 150m from the finish. I assumed that everyone would kick if the pack was still together at 150m. Back in the day, I would have been happy to let it come down to the last 150m, but in my 30's, I was not so confident in my kick. I resumed the lead shortly after I observed that cornering phenomenon. With about 1000m to go, I picked up the pace a little to insure that I would be leading at the 600m corner. As I rounded that corner, I surged hard and separated myself from the remaining 2 guys. I don't know how much making my move at the corner helped or if it was just that I was a stronger runner that day and I chose to strike first. Though I probably won the race right there, I never looked back and I kept racing toward the finish line as if they were right behind me — which in my imagination, they were.
Great example of observing the competition and thinking on your feet. Often, this is the best tactic. Come up with your plan based on what you see happening during the race.
I think that the best way to improve your strategy is to analyze your races — especially the decision points. If you identify a situation where you would like to try something different, rehearse that situation in your mind so that you will be ready if it occurs again.
Again, right on. Know your strengths and practice taking advantage of them. Know your weaknesses and practice tactics that minimize them. I always practice a long kick because I know that raw speed is a weakness for me but maintaining a hard pace for a sustained time is a strength. In workouts, I will occasionally finish by turning up the effort for the last 1/4 to 1/2 mile to practice that long kick and give myself confidence in my ability to use it on race day.