/ Initial Pace

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019

Last night, as usual, I shoot off at the start, way out at the front of a 6 mile race with much faster runners. Many come to me afterwards to say I would have been quicker if I paced myself.
I disagree. This is my reasoning.
Towards the end of a race I am concentrating on finding the optimum point on the curve where pushing to go faster reduces efficiency.  I don't feel, at that stage, the resulting speed is altered by how fast I went at the start.

It is obviously not advantageous to wait for a while after the start before beginning to run.  So it follows that to start very, very, slowly, must also be detrimental.  Flat out sprinting would clearly require recovery at some point which would result in a lower average speed.  The optimum must be between the two.  My view is go faster at the start, but avoid ever needing to drop below your end of race steady state pace.  I tend to go as fast as I can without feeling excess stress, slowing as it mounts.
The question remains.  Is it beneficial to run at very low stress at the beginning because it enables you to maintain the initial elevated pace for longer ?  I don't think so.  I think many people judge the sweetspot too slow.

Feel free to disagree.

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DaveHK 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

It can be hard to judge what's too fast at the start of a race, what you think might be comfortable at 500m in might prove not to have been by 5000m in. Even a little too fast at the start can lead to you slowing down and losing way more time than you gained.

In short, I think you're wrong. ;)

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

"It can be hard to judge what's too fast at the start of a race, what you think might be comfortable at 500m in might prove not to have been by 5000m in. Even a little too fast at the start can lead to you slowing down and losing way more time than you gained."

I agree with that.

> In short, I think you're wrong. ;)

In what respect ?

Post edited at 13:11
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steveriley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

I'd say go as fast as you can without going overdrawn. The interest rates are punitive. Dip into your overdraft in the second half of the race, so long as you can make the payments. 

I frequently go off too fast and have mates saunter past later on. I'm an idiot

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to steveriley:

> I'd say go as fast as you can without going overdrawn. The interest rates are punitive. Dip into your overdraft in the second half of the race, so long as you can make the payments. 

I don't see myself at odds with that.

> I frequently go off too fast and have mates saunter past later on. I'm an idiot

Or, they are just faster than you and they started slowly. You might not have kept up whatever.

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DaveHK 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

> In what respect ?

The first bit of my post?

You're probably right that some people set off too comfortably but look at the evidence you provide, you're setting off fast and getting dropped, that suggests you can't sustain that pace. My feeling is that you'll always lose more than you gain by following that strategy. Pulling numbers out a hat here but say you start out 15sec per K faster than you can sustain but when you fall away from that pace you don't just lose that 15 sec you lose much more.

You say the guys beating you are faster runners but maybe they're faster because they pace themselves better?

Post edited at 13:18
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DancingOnRock 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

Do a trial. Run the route again but start at your average pace for last night. Then at 5 miles see how you feel, if you have loads in the tank and can speed up then you have your answer. 

If you’re actually racing, as opposed to time trialling, then you have to go off with the leaders but you also need to use race craft and decide whether those leaders have gone off too fast for themselves. Then in the closing stages is when you need the energy to make the break. If you’re slowing down then you won’t outpace them. Unless, of course, everyone went out too fast and crashes and burns before the end. 

I know for a fact that all my PBs have been starting out cautiously and getting faster. Except for the marathon distance. 

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DaveHK 14 Aug 2019
Run_Ross_Run 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

No. I'd agree with your thinking. 

Did a 20km run a few months back and went out hard for the 1st 10km doing 4.10 splits per km. Second half I was averaging 4.20's as I started to feel it. My logic is that your gonna eventually slow your pace due to tiredness so make the most of it while you can. Nits saying that's the correct way to approach running but it works for me. 

Agree with pushing hard when you feel freshest. 

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DaveHK 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Run_Ross_Run:

Some people can start fast others can't. It certainly doesn't work for me!

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> you're setting off fast and getting caught and passed, that suggests you can't sustain that pace.

No. You are usually getting passed because others are faster runners.

I do not believe starting the race just 1% faster than my normal average pace for the race and trying to maintain that constant throughout is going to produce a better result.

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steveriley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

> Or, they are just faster than you and they started slowly. You might not have kept up whatever.

I can beat them if I start off more cautiously. Hill racing is hard to get right. I'm relatively stronger on the climbs and when I get it wrong it's when I've played my joker too early.

Always nicer to pass people than be passed in the second half.

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fred99 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

Far too many inexperienced runners lack pace judgement - they either go off too fast and "blow up", or else too slow and finish with unused energy left "in the tank".

However going off too fast leads to a far worse overall time, and also affects the body more over the next day or so.

I suggest going off at a pace in which you can (just) talk without affecting your breathing, at least until half-way, and then moderating your pace dependent on how you feel.

For succeeding races, amend your stating pace dependent on previous experience.

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DaveHK 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

> I do not believe starting the race just 1% faster than my normal average pace for the race and trying to maintain that constant throughout is going to produce a better result.

Try it and see what happens?

It will also depend on the kind of race you're doing. Ive been replying thinking about the kind of races I do (long fell races) where even slightly too fast a start can lead to spectacular losses later. In shorter races it might not make so much of a difference.

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> Do a trial. Run the route again but start at your average pace for last night. Then at 5 miles see how you feel, if you have loads in the tank and can speed up then you have your answer. 

Exactly.  Running is constant trialling.  I am a very analytical person and have been running a long time. With a lot of data I have concluded that starting fast does improve my overall time.  I may be wrong, and I continue to test if that is the case. But it's not easy.  How we feel on the day, weather, differences in the route, all confuse the issue.

> If you’re actually racing, as opposed to time trialling, then you have to go off with the leaders but you also need to use race craft and decide whether those leaders have gone off too fast for themselves. Then in the closing stages is when you need the energy to make the break. If you’re slowing down then you won’t outpace them. Unless, of course, everyone went out too fast and crashes and burns before the end. 

I don't really get that what others are doing makes much difference to your performance.  I just run my own race.

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DaveHK 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

> No. You are usually getting passed because others are faster runners.

But if they started off slower surely that proves my point? 

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Michael Hood 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

Pacing's a funny thing and without trying loads of different profiles it's difficult to know what's best for you, and it's difficult to arrange several runs where everything else except your pacing profile is the same. Slight negative split is the prevailing wisdom, but of course it may not be best for you.

A slight diversion - I've never really worried too much about pacing when running (except in the few half-marathons I've done; trying to stop going off too fast, and trying to settle by following someone who seems steady at about the desired pace **), but I do work out my pacing when doing 2k on a Concept 2 rowing machine.

2k is the Olympic distance, and when you watch the actual rowing races, they all seem to rush off in the first 500m, go steady in the 500-1000 & 1000-1500 quarters, and then all in during the last 500m. I think the idea is to try and get ahead and then be in a position to try and control the race (and make sure you're not in anyone's turbulent wake), and then use all remaining energy in a sprint to the line. I'm pretty sure the top rowers do similar when on the rowing machine, but that may be because it's what they're used to doing (and have trained for).

Doesn't work for me on the rowing machine, my favourite (best) profile is 500m @x secs/500m pace, 500m @x-1, 500m @x-2, then for the final 500m split into 100m segments @x-3, x-4, x-5 and all out sprint (and collapse) for the final 200m.

Used to be quite good at the rowing machine 20 years ago - I was using it for cross-training for climbing/running etc, but I think all my other activities (mediocre/punter level) were actually cross-training for the rowing machine . I'm trying to get back to sub 7mins, which used to be easy-peasy

** how to select someone to follow - my thought was always to find a female runner going at the right sort of pace - thinking was that they will likely be a much better runner than me (more towards elite end of distribution) because generally, men are faster runners than women (certainly at those distances). My "pacer" disappearing up the road in the second half certainly showed who was the better runner

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syv_k 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

World records are set at a very constant pace. If your strategy worked in general, some of the elite runners would be doing it.

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summo 14 Aug 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

Find your threshold pace for any given distance. The pace you can hold without dying, but are still working pretty hard. 

Doing the first two miles 1min quicker won't be better when you run the next 4 slower etc. 

Plus, think about the route, hills etc. are you strong on the hills, so save a bit there for there to claw back places etc. Or the opposite downhill for the second half you can perhaps go faster for the first half.

But, these are your paces and don't bear any relation to any other runners. Tuck in with similar speed runners, but don't get draw into others race pace, either faster or slower. 

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to steveriley:

As DaveHK says people differ. Certainly you can overdo it, especially up hills.  I'm rubbish going up hills.  People pass me all the time.  It's not an issue.

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> But if they started off slower surely that proves my point? 

No. It only proves they started off slower.

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Michael Hood 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

Going up hills...

One of the half marathons I did (1:31ish so not that slow), the biggest hill - not massive but still - passed by some guy pushing his kid in a 3-wheel pushchair - reckon he must have finished sub 1:30 because he was out of sight well before the 10 mile mark, but I suspect he might have been running an easy pace for himself

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DancingOnRock 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

> Exactly.  Running is constant trialling.  I am a very analytical person and have been running a long time. With a lot of data I have concluded that starting fast does improve my overall time.  I may be wrong, and I continue to test if that is the case. But it's not easy.  How we feel on the day, weather, differences in the route, all confuse the issue.

It really depends how much you slow. Most of us would be running slower at the end, than a pace we could have started at, and maintained from the beginning, and increased at the end.

> I don't really get that what others are doing makes much difference to your performance.  I just run my own race.

It doesn’t make any difference to your performance but will make a big difference whether you win or just come second or even further down the field. Mo Farah runs his own race, he can do that because he knows he is the fastest and as long as he runs to his schedule he will win, but watch what happens when the Kenyans get in the mix and try and upset his pacing. The idea is not to run a pb, the idea is to beat the people you are racing. 

Post edited at 14:12
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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to fred99:

> However going off too fast leads to a far worse overall time,

Yes, but the question is how fast is too fast ? That which starts to reduce your race time.

"and also affects the body more over the next day or so."  Tell me about it.

> I suggest going off at a pace in which you can (just) talk without affecting your breathing, at least until half-way, and then moderating your pace dependent on how you feel.

I was really addressing only the first mile.  I then settle down to a pace I can maintain over the distance. Maybe slightly slower for the first half of the race would indeed pay dividends.

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Siderunner 14 Aug 2019

I think it makes sense to go fast off the line, cos you’re warmed up and fresh, but after 800m or so to wind that back to a pace that is 5-10s per km below your target pace, and maintain that for the first half of the race.

The logic is that going badly anaerobic is so expensive in terms of stress on the body and waste products and diminished form that it’s better to do that a bit later i.e. in the last quarter or so.

I watched Kipchoge run a marathon (Olympics perhaps), and that was certainly his winning approach. He looked cruisey until 10k or so to go, when he threw away his cap and really wound up the pace leaving everyone for dust.

What were your negative splits like for a race where you started too slow and couldn’t make up the time?

I have never had that problem in a race, as I never managed negative splits, but unlike you I believe this is suboptimal (based on advice from more experienced runners), and intend to try going slower at the start in future.

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> Try it and see what happens?

Well I have, and concluded not. 

Long fell races I don't do. But in my recent fell races I have certainly gone beyond my training with bad results on a couple of occasions.

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DancingOnRock 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Siderunner:

You can go anaerobic in the last minute or two in the race, you can’t in the first! You can go above your lactate threshold for the last hour in your race, you can’t in the first. You can hit your VO2max for the last 12 minutes of a race, don’t do that at the beginning! 

If you’re going off fast and then slow in the second part then you’ve got it the wrong way around.

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Slight negative split is the prevailing wisdom, but of course it may not be best for you.

Yes.

Interesting about rowing.

> ** how to select someone to follow - my thought was always to find a female runner going at the right sort of pace

I'm not sure that is even legal these days. But often find myself with female runners.  Sometimes with the same result (maybe women are not necessarily slower).  It's good to be running with those who are amongst the best in their category when you are mediocre in yours .

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to syv_k:

> World records are set at a very constant pace. If your strategy worked in general, some of the elite runners would be doing it.

If that is so it is a good point.

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The New NickB 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

You may not feel that your finish speed is affected by your start speed, but it almost certainly is. You don’t have to be sprinting or anything close to sprinting to do this.

How much slower was mile 5 compared to mike 1. When I ran my 10k PB my first mile was actually my slowest. Tactics usually differ for 5k, as i’m prepared to hurt earlier.

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

I'm thinking that mile 5 is much the same as mile 2.  But mile one is faster.  I feel I have a maximum speed thereafter that is not increased by reducing the speed on the first mile.  Perhaps I will start wearing my Garmin again and check this further.

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The New NickB 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

I assume then that you are going off feel if you are not wearing your Garmin, notoriety unreliable.

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ClimberEd 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

It will depend what sort of pace (s) you are talking about.

If you put yourself in oxygen debt off the start then that will hamper you for the rest of the race as the body tries to recover it. Similarly if you push very hard and raise your lactate levels more than necessary for steady state speed for that event then that is also likely to be detrimental. Obviously this will vary - if you are running an 800 or 1500m then you are likely to be raising your lactate levels pretty sharpish whatever pacing strategy you use. 

On the other side of the coin you have about 15-20seconds of 'free speed' at the beginning of the run when your body should access creatine before going utilising anaerobic energy production (if you try a 1 minute sprint you can feel this happening)

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ClimberEd 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

> . I'm pretty sure the top rowers do similar when on the rowing machine, but that may be because it's what they're used to doing (and have trained for).

> Doesn't work for me on the rowing machine, my favourite (best) profile is 500m @x secs/500m pace, 500m @x-1, 500m @x-2, then for the final 500m split into 100m segments @x-3, x-4, x-5 and all out sprint (and collapse) for the final 200m.

>

They only do this to get the machine 'up to speed' as quickly as possible and then settle into their projected split. As you said, in races they sprint to get the boat up to speed and then get ahead and control the race. Oh the joys of chat living in a rowing town.....

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

Yes I said so. But I stopped using my Garmin because that was often too inaccurate to draw conclusions.

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to ClimberEd:

> On the other side of the coin you have about 15-20seconds of 'free speed' at the beginning of the run when your body should access creatine before going utilising anaerobic energy production (if you try a 1 minute sprint you can feel this happening)

So how do you think that should be used  ?

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ClimberEd 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

I'd 'keep it' for the end. But I always try and negative split everything I do. (triathlete rather than pure runner)

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summo 14 Aug 2019
In reply to ClimberEd:

> They only do this to get the machine 'up to speed' as quickly as possible and then settle into their projected split. As you said, in races they sprint to get the boat up to speed and then get ahead and control the race. Oh the joys of chat living in a rowing town.....

I also think it's hard to compare running to any sport where you use a piece of equipment and have a chance to turn the power right off and still coast along. As you say you need to use more energy initially to get moving, be it bike, boat, etc. But you can stop and that energy will keep you moving a little bit further. Stop all running and you'd face plant pretty quickly. 

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Michael Hood 14 Aug 2019
In reply to ClimberEd:

It's interesting when you see a proper decent rower on the rowing machine - they tend to set the resistance to about 4 (nearest "feel" to proper boat I understand) and then except when really going for it, get exceptional speed out of quite a slow stroke rate by pulling really long and hard on the stroke, and then taking even longer on the recovery phase.

I manage to emulate some of that, but I've always found myself fastest by setting the resistance to 10. I suspect that years of climbing (although I've also been running for decades) mean that compared to a rower, my leg power is under-developed compared to my upper body power, so higher resistance more matches my upper/lower power split.

Might be wrong, but that's been my thinking.

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ClimberEd 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

yeah, I guess it's all about rhythm and timing but there should definitely be longer up the slide than pulling (or pushing as everyone now seems to term it). 

It's almost certainly a cross over from being in the boat where you need to let it run underneath you and if you slam forward you dip it sharply and slow it up. That wouldn't happen on an erg but I doubt there has been enough interest to actually do any experiments on what works best on an erg.

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to summo:

> turn the power right off and still coast along.

Running downhill is to some extent.

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Ridge 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

> As DaveHK says people differ. Certainly you can overdo it, especially up hills.  I'm rubbish going up hills.  People pass me all the time.  It's not an issue.

I pass people going up hills a lot, then they pass me at the same slow pace as I'm forced to slow to walking pace as I've hit the hill too hard. Then on the downhill the people who were walking uphill slower than I was end up flying past me..

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DancingOnRock 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Ridge:

Yes. Let the hill do the work. Run at a constant effort, not a constant pace. 

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Ridge:

Love flying down hills.  Imagine I'm on skis.

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The New NickB 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

Inaccurate compared to what?

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

The indicated pace varied in a way I was sure was not correct.  Mind you, more recent devices have probably improved.  I agree with you that it is very difficult to judge how fast you are going.  At parkrun you think you got a pb and then find you were actually very slow.

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petemeads 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

In my experience, Garmin instantaneous pace is useless for pacing, average pace per split distance (user selectable, I use 1km) is much better, but even then there are parkruns that measure 5k but Garmin thinks are anywhere from 4.63k to 4.85k, which occasionally makes for a sub-4 minute last "km".  I have given up watching pace, I monitor heartrate to make sure I am trying hard enough and get the split time confirmation every 5 minutes or so.

I used to save parkrun performance to excel to graphically investigate pace strategy but my local run has changed course several times and I can't be bothered any more. Setting off too fast never seemed to suit me, but setting off slow doesn't either... 

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DancingOnRock 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

Ok. Let’s try another slant. Your lactate threshold is a very good indicator of your pace. Quicker than that and you’ll slow after an hour. Slower than that and you’ll run too slow. The aim is to run at a pace that doesn’t allow excess lactate to build up in your blood. It’s well understood scientifically. If you run quickly at the start you’ll have to drop down below your threshold at some point to enable your body to clear the lactate. 

What length the run is will be critical in determining your optimum pace. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxJVtPT6rHo

Post edited at 21:05
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The New NickB 14 Aug 2019
In reply to petemeads:

I would expect a Garmin to be a lot more accurate than that, although localised factors like tight loops or lots of tree cover will effect accuracy. I’ll let you in to a secret though, parkruns are not always measured to AUKCM standards.

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DancingOnRock 14 Aug 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

The instantaneous pace is also an algorithm that takes into account previous few seconds and as it’s sampling every second or so, your location and speed aren’t going to be that ‘instantaneous’ anyway. 

It’s better to ‘learn’ what your paces feel like and use the Garmin to verify. 

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Mr Fuller 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

If running on the flat I've tried running very hard from the off and maintaining it and it sometimes works for me: it is good for getting you in the mental zone of dealing with intense pain and then it's just down to holding that level of pain for a long time. I ran my parkrun pb that way, desperately trying to hold on to the runner just ahead of me. If I go out slow I find it mentally much harder to speed up. I'm not a very quick or talented runner (top 20 in most races I do) but I do think I'm better than the average runner at really pushing myself. 

In fell races I am quicker than most up hills and on difficult flat ground (eg mud or heavy ground) but know I will lose places down any steep non-technical descents due to leg speed. I manage this by planning to almost blow up as I begin a descent, knowing my heart rate will drop as I descend and even if I were still within threshold I couldn't go any faster down the hill.

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> Quicker than that and you’ll slow after an hour.

I don't think I have run as long as an hour this year.

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David Riley 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Mr Fuller:

My version of your second paragraph would read: "In fell races I am painfully slow (walking) up most hills and quickly exhausted on difficult flat ground (eg mud or heavy ground) but know I will gain places down any steep technical descents on account of complete insanity."

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The New NickB 14 Aug 2019
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> The instantaneous pace is also an algorithm that takes into account previous few seconds and as it’s sampling every second or so, your location and speed aren’t going to be that ‘instantaneous’ anyway. 

> It’s better to ‘learn’ what your paces feel like and use the Garmin to verify. 

I’m not quite sure why you are making that point to me, a Garmin should be fairly accurate at measuring distance, we know that “real time” pace isn’t always accurate.

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Eric9Points 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

I've found heart rate a better metric to watch than speed. With a bit of experience you know what heart rate you can sustain over a set distance and once you know that you can figure out whether you can push on a bit or whether you're going too fast.

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Patrick Roman 14 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

As quite a few have already said, a consistent pace or negative splits is the way to go. Your training sessions should be like that too, whether you’re running, cycling, rowing etc. And with enough training, you should be able to judge your pacing with a huge degree of accuracy. So when I did athletics, for example, I’d often do an out and back course for the half marathon (at least one a week). It wasn’t unusual to get to the half way point in 45mins, turn around and without looking at my watch at all on the return, I’d do the second half to within about 10 seconds. You often hear the word metronomic used in athletics for good reason!

Re rowing on the ergo, when doing longer distances (say 15000m) in training, I always sat around 19-20spm, and would be able to do 1.47/500m pace (approx 54mins for 15k) throughout. You’ll very rarely see people going that slowly (in terms of stroke rate) because they feel they can’t get the speed, but a lot of the power is coming from your legs, not your arms. Everything should be in sync, your arms and legs working together, and no bouncing in the chain ever! I always had the resistance set at 5.

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Michael Hood 15 Aug 2019
In reply to Patrick Roman:

I could never do more than 10000m on the ergo; hands got far too sweaty, and even with a towel on the seat my bum went numb

Nowadays I don't do more than 5000m.

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DancingOnRock 15 Aug 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

It’s called conversation...

You get all sorts of things happening with GPS. ‘Early delay reflections’ sometimes happen around trees. I’ve got a 1km section under tree cover on one parkrun that the instantaneous pace is miles out and takes a while to recover. When you look at the Strava distances for people ‘who also ran’ they’re all different. 

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David Riley 15 Aug 2019
In reply to Mr Fuller:

"If running on the flat I've tried running very hard from the off and maintaining it and it sometimes works for me: it is good for getting you in the mental zone of dealing with intense pain and then it's just down to holding that level of pain for a long time. I ran my parkrun pb that way, desperately trying to hold on to the runner just ahead of me."

Your post is exactly how I would describe my run. The results have just been released and it was a wava pb for me at just under 85.  So even if it's not optimum technique,  it must be pretty close.

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fred99 15 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

> I was really addressing only the first mile. ...

It's going off too fast at the beginning which stays in your legs for the entire run/race.

It always  slows you up in the long run.

The best thing by far is to try different paces in your training runs - see what times you come up with over the same course using differing starting paces, and how you feel with each variation.

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L wbo2 16 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

If you haven't run an hour this year then that might be more of a problem than starting a bit quick.

Exactly how much quicker do you think you're going.  I never liked really fast starts, but I very rarely ran negative splits, and certainly in my pb races I went out at an 'ambitious pace' (4:24 first mile in a 1/2 mar!)

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David Riley 16 Aug 2019
In reply to wbo2:

I run about 2 hours a week.  Generally two club runs and a race.

At the start  "I tend to go as fast as I can without feeling excess stress, slowing as it mounts."

What the pace is,  I'm not sure.  Maybe 6 minute miles ?   After 1K slowing to 6:50.

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Alex1 16 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

Short answer is you're wrong - you should go off at your max sustainable pace for the distance. Why would you vary pace across the race - it is also far easier to dump energy if you have a bit more in the tank in the final couple of kms. (i.e. slight negative splits as said earlier).

6miles (10k) are horrible - I would expect to be hurting from about 500m in and stay hurting until the end, not sure what you mean by optimising and low stress.

I might run the first few hundred metres a bit faster to make sure I'm clear of the group and people doing annoying things like starting too fast who will subsequently get in the way ;)

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David Riley 16 Aug 2019
In reply to Alex1:

> I might run the first few hundred metres a bit faster to make sure I'm clear of the group and people doing annoying things like starting too fast who will subsequently get in the way ;)

Well yes, many of the races I run, year after year, have constrictions early on, which have a major effect.  So another good reason for a fast initial pace.  It's a race.  All part of the game.  But the field has spread by the time I slow.  I doubt I get in anyone's way, unless we're queuing for a stile. You don't want someone starting slow in front of you.

From the reasoning in my opening post.  A starting pace less than sustainable pace would be detrimental.   It is unlikely that exact pace is a magic number, and almost certainly the optimum would be a faster pace to a greater or lesser degree.

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petemeads 16 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

A pacing story:  I ran London 1987 just under 3 hours with a slight negative split (1:29:30 second half), mainly caused by the slow first mile or so in the melée. I had run our local GEC 20 miler as part of my training and the hand-written results included all the split times as we did the 3.3-odd mile laps. Given this was before the charities got heavily into supporting ordinary folk into doing somthing extreme, most runners were serious and trying hard, including someone carrying on to do 30 miles as ultra training...

Looking at everyone's data there was a pattern to the way we slowed down, absolute level pace was rare. Taking the average and comparing it to my times there was a good match, so for my 1989 London I came up with a strategy which combined aspiration with experience - I reckoned I was good for starting at 6:23 pace and slowing by 1 second per mile every mile, ie finishing at 6:49 pace. When asked what I was aiming to run London in I confidently replied my target was 2:53:11 based on this. My primitive Casio watch was programmed to beep every 3 miles to confirm my progress. I actually ran 2:53:51, which looks like a resounding success for my method.

However, it was not like that at all - I ran the third, downhill, mile in 6:06 and ignored the watch because maybe this was the day I could run close to 2:45:00. By Tower bridge my legs were complaining, halfway split of 1:23:20 was nearly my PB and the last 6 miles really dragged. The second half was slower than 1987, despite being fitter. What could I have done had I been sensible? Maybe 2:50:00, who knows, but a learning experience and my last road marathon - recovery took ages and I caught a cold the next week.

I still prefer to start off too fast at parkrun, sometimes I don't blow up at 3.5k, but I can't even sprint at marathon pace now!

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Alex1 16 Aug 2019
In reply to David Riley:

>A starting pace less than sustainable pace would be detrimental.

Yep completely agree

  It is unlikely that exact pace is a magic number, and almost certainly the optimum would be a faster pace to a greater or lesser degree.

Disagree - on road I know pretty accurately what my sustainable pace is, off-road I know what it is most of the time except on hills which have to be done on effort.  Towards the end of the race on a bad day I should be fighting to hold my starting pace and on a good day I should be looking to push a little bit past it. I would never want to be intentionally dropping pace as that would mean being constantly passed by people I've been racing - a deeply depressing thing to happen in a race! It also means you can't lock in behind a slightly better runner and have them drag you to the finish line... Fundamentally if you're planning on slowing you can't be in the best mental state for a PB - you should always be fighting to hold the target speed.
 

Post edited at 15:09
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David Riley 16 Aug 2019
In reply to petemeads:

"What could I have done had I been sensible? "

Usually it's clear when you get it wrong.  But also, was it wrong pace or wrong training ?  My first half (never attempted full) was the Cambridge Sinclair sponsored 1984 having not run for ten years apart from a small number of mostly 3 mile runs in the preceding month.  It was great  until the last mile.  I had to stop half a mile from the finish. Then walked and staggered the rest of the way in a terrible state.  Awful.  It was still 1:26:43 and remains my pb.  Just a bit more training, or, as is said, restraint early on was needed.  So I ask myself the same question.

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David Riley 16 Aug 2019
In reply to Alex1:

Interesting.   My approach is much more minute to minute, less considered. Completely happy to be passed.  I speed up and slow down for variety, chase people for fun or encouragement, or avoid those in the way.

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Roadrunner6 02:34 Sat
In reply to David Riley:

You are wrong..

You will do damage, your mile paces should be remarkably similar.

If you look at good runners they don't slow, if anything they speed up slightly.

Try and change it and see.

I see no issue with going out hard and slowing occasionally, but every time will result in slower times.

Those early miles lead to the accumulation of Lactic acid which will certainly affect later pace.

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