I am running a local trail half marathon this coming weekend, and I have set myself a goal of running it at a smart, conservative pace. For me, one of the great aspects of trail running is getting to enjoy what is around me. The rougher terrain forces me to run at a slower pace which in turn allows me to notice and enjoy what surrounds me. Running on the road is a lot more monotonous and I am typically focused on going at the fastest pace I can sustain given the distance I am running.
In my short road racing career, I have never been good at pacing. Everything I read tells me that negative splits are the best strategy, but when I race my mind always tells me to go out hard and put some time in the bank. Sometimes this is effective as I am able to sustain a higher pace than I expected over a race distance of say 5K. However it has also not worked and I have ended up blowing up and slowing way down in the latter stages of races.
I dream of one day doing long running races, 50km, 50 miles, 100 miles… and I know that pacing is even more critical in these ultra distance races. My first step towards pacing enlightenment is going to happen this weekend. My plan is run the 21.1K conservatively and not get sucked in by the race. I want to ignore the race and stick to 4:00-4:10 min. km’s and then see how I feel in the back half of the race. My hope is that I will be able to pick up the pace at least the in the last few km’s but we’ll see how it goes.
Hopefully writing this post will serve as a strong reminder to myself, and I’ll report back on how it went!