March 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm #12466
Whenever I write a race report, I hear from at least one person either publicly or privately about the fact that my reports make it clear I'm out there racing against the competition and not running a time trial. Sometimes, I'm asked why I do that, other times I'm essentially given a pat on the back, other times I'm essentially scolded. Whatever the case, I always hold true to my convictions. I've done pacing, it's not racing. I've consistently found that the best way to the best performances is through racing. If your body is ready, the conditions allow and the field is setting you up for it, you'll run the fastest time possible. If your body is not ready, the conditions are not conducive to a fast time and/or the competition isn't cooperating, racing and not pacing will not leave you a sitting duck or in trouble going out over your head.
I'm not saying racing and not pacing is the solution for all runners in all circumstances but I have found that it is the preferable way for many runners in many circumstances. It's no surprise to me that these runners have found that racing, not pacing, is the best way to prepare for an NCAA Championship where race tactics are sure to play a role and it's highly unlikely that anyone can just go out from the gun and pace their way to a championship.
March 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm #32243
Do you think it could be applied to the average runner that not intend to win anything( first place or age group awards) or you think that it applies to everybody racing?
March 29, 2012 at 7:29 pm #32244
That's an interesting question. I'm usually not running in the middle of a large pack, largely because I generally don't run mass participation races. Where I'm running, I always find it better to key on the runners around me and be competitive than to focus on splits/pace the whole way. However, is the story different if you're in a pack?
I'd still say not necessarily. No, you're not intently focused on beating that one guy ahead of you because you might be in a steady stream of runners. However, if you're focused on competing, part of that is knowing how much you have left and how hard you can go. In other words, running by feel. To me, that's the best way to run anyway. You don't have to worry about precisely knowing before the race what your best performance is going to be and what your ideal splits would be to accomplish that. You can know how you should feel at the mile, at the halfway point, with a mile to go, etc. Secondly, late in the race, the clock is very much an abstract. Passing the person immediately in front of you is very concrete. Even if it's a steady stream of people, you can still see how many people you can pass in that last mile or the last 3 miles or whatever. This is something that's right in front of you the whole time and you can draw strength from.
As an example of a race I ran where simply competing was the best option for me, I think of the inverse of running in middle of a steady stream of runners. I think of my last race of 2011. If you recall, my only goal was a sub-17 5K. How was I going to accomplish that? I'm sure a lot of people would say strap on a Garmin and run 16:59 pace the whole way. Instead, I competed. Even though I was all alone with nobody within 2 minutes of me, I went out and ran like someone was right on my back the whole way. I ran as hard as my legs would allow and the result was far better than a 16:59.
By the way, just saw this posted on Twitter. Interesting timing.
Food for thought: When Khalid Khannouchi broke the marathon WR in 2002 with his brilliant 2:05:38 at London, he was not wearing a watch.
I also remember his 2002 Chicago race where he ran 2:05:56. After the race, he said time wasn't even among his concerns. He waited to make his move until he knew he could go for the win. I took a look at pictures I took during that race (not the greatest quality) and Googled other pictures of that race and other races. No watch in any of the pictures I've found.
March 29, 2012 at 10:58 pm #32245
It's no surprise to me that these runners have found that racing, not pacing, is the best way to prepare for
an NCAA Championship[essentially any championship on the high school, college, national, or international level] where race tactics are sure to play a role and it's highly unlikely that anyone can just go out from the gun and pace their way to a championship.
Your fellow competitors help to push you beyond what you could do just on your own. Why do you think rabbits/pacers work? Any race you run has built-in rabbits/pacers for you if you want to take advantage of their presence: everyone faster than you.
March 30, 2012 at 1:39 am #32246
When I was a young racer you ran at the front as long as you could. It was then a battle of attrition.
When I began road racing and then college, you soon realized you were not going to hang out near the front.
You ran as far up as you could muster and then it was the attrition battle all over again.
When I was a mature runner, you found out if you ran with a pacing strategy, you could haul down a fair
number of people who still ran like you once did.
When I found myself in a smaller race as a mature runner, it was valuable having all the above experiences
and using the skills/talents/machoism to achieve the best result. Need I also say, “and have fun doing it.”
To this day, there are still people I feel compelled to race against. We don't need to talk about it, we just
do it. Some people just drive you to do it. Sometimes it is friendly competition and other times it is based
on reasons which have positively or negatively motivated me. I guess this is what always motivates me to
train harder or get back in the action occasionally. That's just the way it is.
March 30, 2012 at 1:45 am #32247
I dont see khannouchi wearing a watch in none of his races, or pictures. he ran a half marathon here and did not wear a watch , won nin 67.35. Love your racing approach Ryan. Nowadays, its difficult not to see a runner wearing a garmin and glancing at the watch every 10 meters to see if he she is on pace!! in fact most people only care about times, the head to head competition is underrated compared to the garmin approach!! Galen rupp only said that if he wanted to run a certain time, he would go out on his own and do that time, but he rather wanted to compete and win.
On Sunday I ran a 8k race, raced without a watch, did not run the best time but I was suprised at the end, the temps were pretty hot, felt bad from the get go, and ran the second half easy, did not push in the second half, did 38.16, was hoping to see 40 in the finish line given the slow second half, ran accordint to my body that day, if I would have payed attention to splits I would have burried myself given how I felt and the conditions.
March 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm #32248
Andrew, precisely. There's just something about running head to head against another runner. For most people, it will propel you to a harder effort than simply running against the clock. The clock is just a number. Out on the course, it's an imaginary line in the middle of nowhere. Another runner is someone you can look at, focus on, convince yourself you can pass. Heck, in my case with nobody near me, it was easier to imagine another runner breathing down my neck and use that to push harder and harder than to imagine a line of some magical pace that might pass me.
Double, as usual, I love it! One thing I would ask, are you still not racing when you use a pace strategy? I use a strategy of relatively even splits/effort. When I let someone who is going out too fast go early on, that's my racing strategy. When he comes back mid race, my racing strategy is to bury him before he can recover for that big finish. Yes, it's an even splits strategy, maybe with a surge thrown in to break his spirit when I go by him, but it's still a racing strategy with a competitive focus. I'm still focusing on where my competition is and how I feel much more than what my watch is telling me (which is a good thing since I don't wear a watch 🙂 ).
Cesar, I've looked at quite a few race pictures of KK and have yet to find a watch on his wrist in any. I do think that the elites especially tend to focus more on racing than many people. Of course, it's easier for them probably because they are there up front and the competition is very clear. They are going out there to beat all comers. Same for those collegiate runners, same for top high school runners, same in most if not all cases for Rupp. It's a little harder to see the competition in the middle of the pack but, when I've been in the middle of the pack, I've still never had trouble finding it. There's always someone ahead of you to catch or someone coming up behind you to hold off or to let go for now, with hopes you will pass that runner later. If you look at it that way, the competition in the middle of the pack can be more readily available than it is for the elites.
March 30, 2012 at 1:16 pm #32249
I've looked at quite a few race pictures of KK and have yet to find a watch on his wrist in any. I do think that the elites especially tend to focus more on racing than many people. Of course, it's easier for them probably because they are there up front and the competition is very clear.
Not to mention there's always a large clock on the vehicle in front of them throughout the race? 😉
March 30, 2012 at 1:43 pm #32250
Yea but in the latter stages Khanouchi was in the back of the lead pack, such as, healthy kidney, where the winners ran 27-28 and he ran 30 mins, and in the olympic trials 2007, and san jose half mary when he did 65 mins!, anyway is not the same looking at a clock that paying closely attention to mile/km splits!
Ryan, that was a question that I was going to make u, if when you ran 16:47 in the 5k you were so obsessed with the sub 17 time and were chasing that time so hard, that I thought that you were running by splits on that race, I am glad that you make it clear!! 😀
March 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm #32251
Not to mention there's always a large clock on the vehicle in front of them throughout the race? 😉
In Chicago 2002, there was a breakaway runner. The lead vehicles were out of his view in the late miles until KK took off, as I recall around the 24 mile mark. It's true that he ran with pacers who were surely in charge of hitting specific splits, though.
Cesar, in that 5K, they don't even have accurate mile markers. They have someone calling splits at about 1 mile and I know that one is close. They have someone calling splits near 2 miles also but I know the 2 mile mark is about 10-15 seconds before the person calling splits (pulling double duty, directing traffic at a turn also). So I heard splits along the way but they were, at best, approximations. I knew I was roughly where I wanted to be but I honestly thought in that race I was going to be flirting with 17 flat, hoping for high 16:50s. When I saw 16:40s and managed to cross in 16:47, that was a thrilling surprise.
April 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm #32252
As a mid-pack runner I fell that we can most surely race and not chase. I raced hard at Al's run trying to outrun enough people to make the top 100 and got knocked out by one person to put me at 101. I keep an eye on splits sometimes to ensure I go out at the right pace – near the end I pay no attention to splits and give it every last ounce I can. At last year's Al's Run I couldn't stand for a couple minutes when I crossed the finish line my legs were wobbly and I couldn't catch my breath – that is not chasing – that is racing!
April 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm #32253
Ryan, I use the pacing strategy and yes it is racing. More now, I try and maximize my finishing time.
I feel like I'm racing more when I have an eyeball on someone. That doesn't happen much at 50.
At some point I cross paths with someone and then I have to re-evaluate the Kentucky windage to
April 3, 2012 at 1:05 am #32254
Double, I've seen you in races. No offense intended but I have trouble believing you're thinking more about hitting your next split than catching the next guy in the last mile or 2 of Al's Run.
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