Drafting Etiquette?

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  r-at-work 12 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #5681

    kevrunner
    Member

    I was curious about the proper etiquette on drafting in a race, if there is any.  I never ran in school, was just wondering if there are some do's and don'ts to drafting.  Seems drafting is an important tool that the more experience runners use and I need all the help I can get this weekend the the Marine Corps Marathon.

    Kevin

    PR  – 3:08:51, Chicago 2005
    Sub 3 Attempt – 10/29/2006 – Marine Corps Marathon

  • #21883

    Zeke
    Member

    Kevin, in a race the size of MCM you shouldn't have any problems finding someone to draft.  Don't feel obligated to “take a pull.”  I find that some people don't even realize there are benefits to drafting.  I ran Grandma's one year and two guys were running side-by-side just chatting even though we were facing a strong wind.  That was even better for me because I was able to tuck in behind them and relax.

    If you're running with a smaller group, it is proper etiquette to share the drafting duties, but I'd sit back and wait at first.  Again, some people don't realize they're doing all the work, don't realize someone is using them, some like to run from the front, etc.  My sense is that runners, in general, aren't too keen on the whole drafting thing.  So if you are aware of it, you'll be much better off.

    Good luck going after sub-3.

  • #21884

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Kevin, I'd agree with Zeke in general. If you're shooting for sub-3, you'll probably have a pretty good sized group to work with. The group may work into a natural cycle where everyone takes the lead for a short amount of time or one or two people may take it upon themselves to take the wind and let the others follow. I'd say sit at the back of the sub-3 pack early on and see how the dynamics of the group form. If everyone else is sharing the lead, it would be common courtesy to do your part. You'll still gain more than you give up. If only a portion of the group is doing the work at front while others sit in back and reap the benefits, then joing those in the back.

    If you're unsure, you can always strike up a conversation with others in the group and ask if they mind that you take the draft or if they would like you to help out a bit.

    Unless you're battling for the lead or a money/prize position in a race, people usually aren't too concerned about drafting.

  • #21885

    cameron
    Member

    i'd recommend any spitting, [email protected] or snot-blowing be curtailed when you're up in front…unless you've got a big tailwind.  ;D

    good luck this weekend.  hang it out.

  • #21886

    Chris
    Member

    i'd recommend any spitting, [email protected] or snot-blowing be curtailed when you're up in front…unless you've got a big tailwind.

    This is kind of funny.  I tucked in behind 5 or 6 women in Grandmas this year that basically made up the chase pack.  They would spit / farmer blow, whatever.  They didn't care.  With the humidity that day I was open to any liquids that were hitting my skin….GROSS I know.  Not sure they would have understood me had I asked them to stop anyway.  No american women in that pack!  Me and the ladies…I was loving it!  Ha ha. 

  • #21887

    sueruns
    Member

    size matters to me.

    I didn't notice anyone behind me when I ran and talked with the pace leader, I'd had forgotten that I was with a pace group.

    My last marathon, I did alot of talking, yet, it didn't go unnoticed that 3 of us rotated and 3 leeched off of us.

    One on one.  If your on my heels from 1-10 miles without offering to work together, expect some unpleasantries.

  • #21888

    blackdog
    Member

    I pretty much agree with everyone, you should have no problems tucking in at a big race. I know Sunday there were plenty of people for me to draft from. I am 5' 2″ so id doesn't take much for me to tuck behind another person.

    I have to say in a smaller race if there are just a few people offer to do some of the work.
    Last year a Whistlestop in the half I was a few seconds behind the lead women. One guy decided to “stalk” me, I mean draft off of me. He was way to close to me so i moved back and forth on the trail thinking he would take the hint to help out. Finally I said, are you going to let me do all the work here.
    He said “what”, I said well for 2 miles I have been doing all the work. He had no idea what I was saying. Needless to say it ticked me off I threw in a surge and he did finsih about a minute behind me.
    I don't mind helping each other in adverse conditions. But he was really “stalking” I me ticking me off.

    Good Luck,

    Karen

  • #21889

    kevrunner
    Member

    Thanks all for the drafting advice and a few laughs it is really appreciated.  I would have never thought of “sharing the work”, but I can easily now how it would be very irritating to the lead runners of the group if everyone does not take their turn.

    Kevin

  • #21890

    Zeke
    Member

    He was way to close to me so i moved back and forth on the trail thinking he would take the hint to help out.

    Okay, how about getting someone out of your draft?  It doesn't happen too often, but if someone is drafting off me and there's a cross-wind (so they have to be off to the side rather than directly behind me), I'll move all the way to the edge of the road, so there's no way to get beside me.  :-X

  • #21891

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Okay, how about getting someone out of your draft?  It doesn't happen too often, but if someone is drafting off me and there's a cross-wind (so they have to be off to the side rather than directly behind me), I'll move all the way to the edge of the road, so there's no way to get beside me.  :-X

    Now, there's an interesting topic. In the case of a cross-wind, your idea works well. In the case of a headwind, people usually get the idea if you try what Karen tried. However, people are sometimes persistent. I remember a story, I believe from Coach Conway although it might have been from someone else, much like Karen's. The “stalker” would not take the hint after some weaving back and forth across the course so the leader stopped in his tracks and stood there until the “stalker” got the idea. This could work pretty well if you're leading over third by a good margin, might not work as well if 10 people fly by you when you stop.

  • #21892

    GTF
    Member

    Go by a hydration station, go to dump a cup of liquid on one's head and “miss” high.  Or surge. 8)

  • #21893

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Or surge.

    The solution I usually use. It usually works pretty well but not always. Of course, your other solution seems interesting, especially if one were to “accidentally” grab the Gatorade instead of the water to dump on one's head. Nothing like getting a sticky, sugary surprise in the face to enjoy for the rest of the race. One could also “drop” the cup as they “miss” high for added emphasis if the drafter has gotten annoying enough.

  • #21894

    Bart
    Member

    I'm 6'3″, 200+ pounds.  People draft behind me all the time.  I usually ignore it and just run my own race.  As far as my drafting off others, I do it if the situation presents itself.  My rule of thumb is that if I draft for over a mile, I offer to take the lead. 

    the leader stopped in his tracks and stood there until the “stalker” got the idea.

    I saw something similar to this in the Olympics during a cross country ski race (in 2002 I believe).  The leader had slowed a number of times and the second place skier wouldn't pass him.  Finally the leader stopped and made a gesture for the other guy to pass.  The second place skier still didn't pass.  The leader just took off and tried to open a gap.  Sadly I don't remember which of them won the race.

  • #21895

    ksrunner
    Participant

    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.

    Steve

  • #21896

    r-at-work
    Member

    Is there a certain race distance threshold where drafting etiquette matters? …

    So, would my tactics have been considered bad racing ettiquette?
    Steve

    isn't the whole idea of RACING to beat the other guy and short of stepping on your competitor, or knocking them over it's not really ettiques but strategy?

    in the marathon I think the overall endurance aspect of the race makes groups of like minded(same pace, same goal, maybe same country) runners work together since there is an advantage to running as a pack (especially in the wind)… for example, if a bunch of guys who had trained together were all trying to make it to the Olympic trials for the marathon and decided to run together they work together so more of them would reach the goal (theoretically)… but at some point the “deal” is off as it IS a race, even if it's just a qualifier…

    not that I've ever been in much contention to win anything… and the only time I've drafted was with a pace group… and once in a marathon when it was snowing horizontally on part of the course, this guy past me and said “tuck in behind me and try to hang on” seems he had been following me for a couple miles…

    I think it boils down to communications of expectations… I also saw (at a half marathon last month) a runner get rid of a person drafting off them by good aim of snot rockets…
    eeewww
    -Rita

  • #21897

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Ksrunner, I think you're hitting on the interesting part of this question. As Rita mentioned, in the end, racing is about beating the other guy and using any tactic other than cheating, which drafting is not, is legal and accepted.

    As someone who frequently was the draftee, mainly because I didn't have the speed to play a sit and kick game, I can tell you how frustrating it is to be the one doing all the work, just to have someone blow by you at the end for the win. That's why I've developed many strategies for dealing with drafters that have worked well for me personally.

    I would suggest that etiquette says that you share the work. However, true racing where your only goal is to beat the other person isn't always filled with etiquette. You're not out there trying to be nice, you're out there trying to beat that person which, in some ways, can be seen as inherently not nice.

    Personally, I think etiquette dictates that you share the work at least through the early stages of a race, especially in longer races (I'm purposely leaving the line undefined because I believe it is undefined) where you have a long time to work together before the racing really starts. Especially, as Rita pointed out, if you're working with a group in any kind of pre-arranged fashion. That said, I believe in truly racing, which means you're out there to beat as many people as possible. In this fashion, anything that doesn't break the rules is fair game. I may weave around, I may do all kinds of strange things with the pace, I may pull out all the tricks in the book. This is part of racing to beat the competition. So is drafting.

    In the end, I guess you have to ask yourself what you're trying to accomplish. Are you out there trying to work with people to run as fast as possible? If so, sharing the workload seems like the best way to accomplish that. Are you out there competing, trying to beat as many people as possible and maybe trying to win the race? If so, you have to ask yourself what the best tactic to accomplish that goal is. That may mean taking the draft for a long time, maybe even the whole race. If you do so, expect the person you're drafting off of to use their own tactics. I guarantee if you're drafting off of me for the whole race, you will see some tactics but I'm not going to tell you what they will be in part because I decide on the run based on the situation but also in part because I'm not going to tip my hand and give up a competitive advantage.

    I probably tried to oversimplify the question earlier due to the narrowed scenario given. However, the complete drafting issue is much more fuzzy and greatly depends on the specific scenario, which includes much more than just the race distance.

  • #21898

    sueruns
    Member

    I think it boils down to communications of expectations…
    -Rita

    I'd agree.  I had a young girl that came up to me before a 10k race and say “I'm going to stay behind you the entire race” and she was a heavy breather, and it didn't bother me at all, versus the woman that was pulling race tactics on me at a small, local race.  

  • #21899

    r-at-work
    Member

    In the end, I guess you have to ask yourself what you're trying to accomplish.

    Are you out there trying to work with people to run as fast as possible? If so, sharing the workload seems like the best way to accomplish that. Are you out there competing, trying to beat as many people as possible and maybe trying to win the race? If so, you have to ask yourself what the best tactic to accomplish that goal is. That may mean taking the draft for a long time, maybe even the whole race. 

    a couple years ago I saw something interesting at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler here in DC… it is usually a warm up race for many people, including a flock of Kenyans, going to Boston… we got to see the lead group of 6-8 Kenyans on a turn around… they were already a few minutes ahead of everyone else and were running abreast of each other, talking!!!… a later interview with them said that they were discussing who would draft and at that point they all felt good and wanted to lead so as to test themselves in the wind… it looked really cool as they were just floating along and didn't look like they were part of the race at all… mostly I've seen the photos & TV coverage of a tight pack working together, but this one time it was different…
    -Rita

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