With the Indianapolis Marathon just over one week away, I was reminded of the importance of pacing while running my last 20 mile run last Friday night. So many people start out fast (which is easy to do because of adrenaline and the energy of surrounding athletes at the start line) and then tucker out as the race progresses.
What is my pacing strategy on race day? For a marathon, I try to take the first 3-5 miles relatively easy, warming up the body and not pushing the pace too much. After my warm up, I pick up the pace a bit and go with how I feel…pushing my body, maintaining a slightly higher heart rate (low Z3), but maintaining a strong, steady pace. I also start to focus on people further in front of me that I can pick off and sing in my own head…Another One Bites the Dust. I continue to maintain this pace and/or heart rate through mile 22 where I then begin to focus on the last 4.2 miles and start to increase my pace and heart rate if I am physically able.
I purposefully try not to run a steady paced marathon as this causes me to go out faster than I should. My body responds well to a warm-up and then finding that comfortable pace to maintain.
There are many factors that can influence my pacing…weather, lack of sleep, nutrition, stress, mental focus. One thing I have learned over the many marathons I have run is not to push myself into the med tent on race day.