6'0 Tall wife to Muscle Man, mother of 3, full time career woman, with an addiction to running wherever her size 10's will take her.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Start Slow?

As a former basketball player there are a few elements in running/racing that baffle me.

  • 1. Run slower in training than you will run in the race.
Many folks smarter than me have TRIED to explain this to my little Tall Mom athletic mind.. less risk of injury, more time on your feet, the endorphins in the race will make you faster...etc. Still does not connect. My whole life the words "Game Speed," have echoed in my head. Practice like you are going to play.. And yet in running, that is not the case. I ran 90++% of my training runs faster than the plan had set out. I have a goal, so why not make my training come as close to that goal as possible?

  • 2. Start Slow to Finish Strong.
Will someone PLEASE send me proof that this worked for you in a Marathon? I tend to start too fast, I know that I do this and I have been working on it. I have trained and know that I can can run slower pick it up at the end of a LONG run. But I am not convinced that I am ready to START SLOW?? What if I settle into the slower grove and can never find those precious seconds I could have gained with a more ambitious start?

Funny Runner left an AMAZING comment:

When I qualified for Boston last fall my main strategy was to focus on NOW. I think we tend, in a marathon, to worry about how we will keep it up for the miles ahead. I focused on how I felt NOW. Am I feeling strong? Yes. My strategy was to run as hard as I could while I felt good. I had a mantra to keep myself focused and to push pain and fatigue out of my mind. I pushed away thoughts of how I would keep up the pace and focused on how I felt right at the moment. And it worked..... Don't be afraid. Ask yourself what's the worst that can happen. You run out of steam, so what. Don't slow down in ANTICIPATION of running out of steam. Just run hard as long as you possibly can.


I think I will take her advice. Go with my body. Trust my training and just RUN!! The rest will take care of itself.

  • What are your thoughts?
  • Do you train slower than your Goal time? How has that strategy worked out for you?
  • Are you a Tortoise or Hare at the start of a race? How has your pacing strategy played out good/bad/etc?

34 comments:

Amy said...

What are we both doing in bloggy land before 8am on a Saturday? (I'm digesting my brekkie before my run, that's what!)

Last year, my inexperienced self started VERY slow in my first half marathon. I'd gone out too strong in a 5K, and didn't want to get sucked into racing with the 5K and 10K people that all started at the same time, so I held back. At the end of the race I had LOADS of energy left, and even though I made it in under my goal time, I know I could have been faster if I hadn't been SO slow at the beginning. This time round, I'm training at the pace I want to run my race so that I know what it feels like and can run that pace on race day no matter what others are doing around me. I'll let you know how it works - race is next Sunday!

Lindsay said...

Well as a new runner I don't really have a game plan yet. . . I love all that you said very good advice. I'm anxious to see how my game day mode plays out.

Lisa said...

I don't have proof that it works for a marathon, I've never run a marathon. But starting slow has definately helped me this season.

But the real proof comes from my friend who just got back from Boston. Now, mind you, his idea of slow and my idea of slow are not the same, but he just PR'd by 3 minutes at Boston and he swears the secret was taking the first 5K easy and picking up the pace after that...

ajh said...

I definitely start fast (for me.) I feel like when I start slow I settle into that groove and don't pick it up. I don't want to start too fast - a pace I can't maintain - but neither do i want to start slowl

marathonmaiden said...

great tips! i definitely think that going slower has helped me race faster although, even though i've seen results from it, i have such a hard time believing it!

J said...

As a former bball player too, I understand what you are saying. I guess since I have actually seen the run slower...etc, etc work its easier for me to understand. I love to run fast just like you, i love to train fast but I have noticed listening to my body and going slower some days is helpful. We train at the pace we want to run of course but just not all the time. I don't think the body can take running that fast all the time. For 5k I try to start fast but not too fast. For the longer races I try to start out slower because I know that my body will warm up and I will be able to make up the time, especially in a 15k, half marathon and for you a marathon!

Bethany + Ryan said...

Definitely start out slower. Not "slow," lol. 8:24 pace is not slow :-P def use the first couple of miles to warm up.
I do my long runs at 9-9:30 pace and my marathon pr pace was at 7:57, it felt the same as my training runs. And one time I ran the first 20 miles of a marathon with a friend and took off at mile 20. I felt so amazing and strong. Must have passed 2000 ppl in the last 6.2 miles. I was running 7:30s. It felt great. So yes, it's all possible!!! Anything is possible, u know that! :-)

Kerrie T. said...

Well I run slow for the whole thing, so what does that mean? LOL! I think everyone is different, so do what your body tells you. You've got it.

X-Country2 said...

You're going to do so great. Have a plan (no matter what it is), but keep it flexibile.

Funnyrunner said...

Wow. I'm quoted. Thanks, Tall Mom. Actually, not all training plans have you run slowly. In fact, most serious training plans have you doing speed work twice a week, including tempo runs (longish run at a faster than comfortable pace), and the one I use "prescribes" marathon pace runs sometimes on the long run days. What you DON'T want to do is do an entire marathon at your marathon pace before the marathon, thus wearing yourself out for the marathon. I think that makes sense.

Funny- most people dole out the advice to start slowly so you save some energy for the end. I'm sure that works for some folks, but I find that when I start out too slowly, like ajh above, I get into that slow groove and then I don't speed up. After 12 marathons, I've learned that I pitter out at the wall (between 17 and 22) whether I start out slowly or quickly, so screw it. If I want to run fast I run fast while I'm feelin' it. Eitehr way I'm going to conk out and slow down, so I may as well get the speed in while I can! :)

Run, girl! :)

Erica said...

hmmmm these are all good things to think about!

I don't have much experience, but last night at my 5k I lined up in the front, I did not realize what a big race it was I was in the 5 min pace group, when I got to mile one at 8:10 I knew I was in trouble! (but was I really?)

here's the thing, if I had not, have known my time being 8:10 I wonder now if I could have pushed like that the whole time, it was only a 5k and I felt ok at mile one, but I backed way off at that point for fear of having no steam to go the next two miles....anyhow what I am getting at is I think funny runner has said it best run in the moment and how you are feeling, I wish I would have read that last night!! Our mental game is 90% of running!!!!

Have a great weekend!

5 Miles 2 Empty said...

Ok, never ran a marathon before (yet~ =]) BUt in the Mercer half I did just like Funny runner said, I went with the moment and how I felt. like I told you, I kept waiting to get tired, but it never really Happened, so I kept going! I am quite sure you are going to be able to hold your pace throughout, since you have been training fast it stands to reason (to me anyway) that you will race faster than you train...so you will be golden!!!

Croughwell said...

When training for the Honolulu Marathon all my long runs were slower then my pace in the race. I would run my long runs anywhere between 9 and 10 minute pace with or without the stroller and my pace for the marathon was 8:44. I am doing the same for my Kona Marathon and hoping to for a 8:30 pace.

Croughwell said...

I also did speedwork in the form of 800s and tempo runs during the week.

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

I think that is great advice! Listening to your own body is the BEST thing to do.

I just finished my 5k and my first mile was 5:50. I didn't even know I could run that fast. I did slow down but held the lead that I created in starting so strong. I am not great at shorter distances but today starting fast paid off. First female/third over all!

I can not imagine how great you are going to do with the training you have gotten in. Make your reservations now because Boston here you come!

saundra said...

I feel the same way about #1- I train at race pace for long runs, and my race strategy has always been to run comfortable but get as far as I can as fast as I can. But I'm nowhere near an expert...

Running Kiwi said...

My marathon is a week away, and I'm still trying to make a decision about what pace to aim for in the first half ... "best" pace, but will I burn out OR "slower" pace so I've got energy to up it at the end. Decisions, decisions ... I think I've basically decided to go by how I feel on the day :) I used to see a sports psychologist years ago and I can remember debating with him about how surely if you are peak performance all the time, then when it counts it is easy ... rather than "building" and making sure you peak at the right time, I still think if you can perform at peak performance all the time then surely it makes the "big" day easier?

Hannah said...

I run slower than I plan to run in my marathons on my long days. My Coach runs 4 minutes slower per mile on his long runs than he does in his marathons. He said you don't have to do it that extreme, but that slower is better. We always feel bad with making him run slow (our pace) but in all reality, he continues to assure us that it is all good. In fact, he just ran a sub-3 hour at Boston, so he can't be completely out of touch with reality! :)

Molly said...

wow, her comment hit home with me. I dont' start out strong or slow in a race, I try to maintain. I am definitely afraid of what may come, and I'm way too conservative with my abilities. This is something to think about.

Miriam said...

I have a hard time starting slow myself. I generally start off too fast and then end up regretting it in the long run. I choose to blame the fact that I started as "sprint" athlete. Most rowing races are under 8 minutes long.

MCM Mama said...

I"m struggling with the same question about how fast to go out. I've done some wonderful progressive runs, so I get the start slow, then pick it up mentality, but I'm not sure I'll have the energy to pick it up at the end of 26 miles, regardless of how fast I start. In my case, I'm worried about how warm the day might get, so I feel like I should get as many miles in before I get too hot as I can.

Good luck figuring it out!

RunningLaur said...

MCM Mama are doing the same race - with less than 400 total runners, who would have thought?!?!
Anyway, I'm having sort of the same problem. I'd like to use my energy while I have it, but I don't want to use it all up for when the miles get longer and the course gets harder. I think, in the end, it'll be a combination of how I feel along with some conservative holding back. The last thing I want to do is to blow up and have to walk the last 13 miles (like my roommate had to!). I think it's really a combo of how you feel and how you've trained - and you've trained so well - you'll get it! Run strong. Run well. Run to rock it!

Heather said...

I feel the same way about starting slow - paranoid that I will never speed up. I do run my long training runs slower than race pace, but now as slow as I used to. There's a happy balance there. :)

Cynthia O'H said...

I always start slow - no matter what the distance. Then, the first mile or two don't really count in my mind and the rest seems so much more doable.

momof3 said...

IF I were ever in a position to train for a BQ, I think I would do it like you've done it. Seriously, what would make me think that training slow is going to make me faster? (all those people say those things to me too, but my best HALF was after training with someone who was just a touch faster than me).

As for starting slow, the first mile's going to be slow anyway with the start congestion. Use it as a warm up and then I say just get into your Tall Mom GROOVE & run those miles. After 20 it's all mental, and I know you're strong. If you don't know that you're strong, just go back and read a few pages of this blog. I also (as a marathoner), do not believe that anyone really speeds up in the last 6 miles or so. It's a myth. No one I saw racing looked fast in the last 6 miles, even the ones who passed me.

LMC said...

I agree with Bethany & Ryan. Start out slower, not slow! For me, part of the reason for this is to keep from giving in to that initial urge to push too hard from the very beginning when I'm still feeling very strong. I don't want to use all my strength between mile 1 and 13 cause I'll need it at mile 21. You're ready and you're gonna do great at Eugene!

Marlene said...

Good question(s)!

The "train slower than your race pace" has baffled my mind also. I don't follow the "rule" of percentage... I trained for 2 marathons with the prescribed long run pace and it didn't work for me. This time I tried to run closer to goal pace. We'll see if it works!

Start slow... YES! Not too slow, but comfortable. My most successful long runs have been ones where I started conservatively and got faster on the second half.

That being said, I have yet to negative split a marathon. (except Disney, but that's b/c we had 46575 pitstops in the first half, lol).

So much to consider.....

Denise said...

we've already chatted about the running slower in training than on race day and i think you're following some great advice!! it will pay off!

teacherwoman said...

I remember when I was training for my first half marathon. I was doing the run/walk method, probably running 4-5 minutes for every 1 mile walked. Well, when I started the race, I started out pretty slow and stuck with a group of ladies. I was able to run the first 4 miles without stopping and finished strong (despite nasty blisters!) I believe that starting slow will help with finishing strong. It's just finding the right starting pace to fit you!

runkerarun said...

I'm a tortoise for the whole race! Haha. I think we naturally start out slower because of all the weaving through runners at the start, warming up the muscles, etc. I reaaaaaally like the advice about just focusing on NOW, because I very often think of the miles ahead, and it gets me exhausted.

TNTcoach Ken said...

I always tell my team to trust their training and go with that. I've tried the crash and burn method and it ain't pretty. Negative splits baby!

Jill said...

I think if you crash and burn enough marathons, you will learn by experience what to do and what not to do, no one can really tell you if your mind is set one way. There is evidence galore to support the slower long run pace but everyone's different so go with your heart. But, just to add the support, the year I BQ's with a 8:32 pace, I trained all my long runs at 9:30's. Just saying.. :)

Good luck this weekend!!!!

Lorian said...

Here's Runner's World's answer: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-244--13477-0,00.html?cm_mmc=training-_-2010_04_27-_-training-_-TRAINING%3a%20A%20Wise%20Start#

I just happened to find this in my in box today.

JF said...

My mantra for marathons is "Run Comfortable." And after trial and error (slower than MP on long runs, ect), I now train my long runs as close to marathon pace as possible, but always staying "comfortable".

When I BQ'ed, I told myself to just run my race and see what happens - I didn't even wear my Garmin - and I cried at the end when I saw the clock at 3:36 because I had never felt SO good at the end of a marathon!

Your training sounds like it's been AWESOME so you have nothing to worry about...just go out and run how you know can!

GOOD LUCK!!!