Monday 16 April 2018

Ultra training plans #10 Pacing for ultras

#10 The final topic! PACING
You can do everything right in your training, fuel properly, plan the race out, get the kit you need and then screw it all up by racing off too fast at the start trying to keep up with others (who are possibly going too fast also)
It's a painful way to run.... Exhaust yourself early on then struggle it in for the second half. Grim. We've all done it. Us blokes tend to be worse... Ladies are sometimes guilty too though.
In my eyes the ideal pacing is that where you are just beginning to fade at the end but can just about hold it together. IF you do a massive 'negative split' eg run the second half loads faster than the first, you probably weren't running hard enough initially. If you get to halfway or 80% through then crash and burn, enjoy the rest 

A couple of examples.... first from myself.... I ran 47 miles in 6 hours 6 mins back in 2012 on a trail. The 10km was 42 mins pretty much dead on.... My final 10km was about 55 mins
My eventual average was 7 min 51 mile.
I was psyched up and flying early on it felt easy, relatively comfortable for 4 hours but... Battling a bit of a head wind and just generally running a bit too hard the final 2 hours was very tough. Looking back I probably needed more fuel too and should have had a more detailed look at the route towards the end.
I can think of plenty of examples of others too, I don't like to use positions as a measure of a good performance because you just don't know who is going to turn up, if you go and 'win' an LDWA event it might not be as good of a performance as coming 30th in a competitive race.
In a 40 mile race I did a couple of years ago, the 2nd place runner was sticking with me up until about 18 miles then in the final 22 miles lost over 1 hour on me and barely hung on to 2nd position. You have to run your own race. There's an element of mental games and psyching out opponents in the later stages or in shorter races but when we're talking longer races especially ultras.
Let's suppose we're battling for the 1st and 2nd positions in a race, we're neck and neck for the first half of the race but you are pushing at an unsustainable pace, where as I am just keeping it steady and matching your pace, when we get to the final climb and a few miles to go, I've not been working as hard and can therefore push the pace and keep the intensity whereas you've burnt out and just can't answer to the injection of pace at the end.
Play to your strengths by all means, just to start with, be sensible with your pacing, your overall time will be better and usually that means your position will be higher too! After you've won a few races it might not feel the same, but that feeling you get when you run your hardest and achieve more than you ever thought possible.... That never gets old 
Hope you have loved the last 10 articles! Stay tuned for a bonus one tomorrow

Happy trail slaying folks 

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