Question about pacing on race day

Stuart asks

Hi Lee,
Only one week to go until the half marathon. Thanks very much for your program – it has worked very well for me. Unfortunately, I am suffering a few niggling injuries (runners knee), but am scaling back the intensity of training and should be able to run through it.
I had a quick question for you. I am targeting a half marathon time of 100 minutes and have recently found that my speed is picking up – I went for a 15km jog the other day and was running 4min30sec /km and feeling pretty good. If I can keep this pace for 21 kms then I am targeting 95mins. How should I be thinking about the pace on race day – would you recommend running around the same pace over the 21km or should I be trying to start a little slower and pick it up at the end? Given I ran the 15km at 4:30/km, should I go out at that pace given I could expect to potentially run faster on race day?

Lee's response

Hi Stuart,

There are two ways you could play this out:

1)    You could aim for the conservative approach of 1hr 40mins (4.44 per km) which would see you wanting to go through 10km in 47.24. The second half is harder than the first half with some of the hills but if you are in control and finding the pace easy, you should be able to run the second half just as quick, if not marginally quicker and break 1hr 40mins.

2)    Trying to be somewhat a little more aggressive of aiming for that 95mins (4.30 per km) is 14 secs per km quicker which will see you hit 10km in 45mins. As I said the first half is slightly easier than the second half and even though you are running quicker, you should still be able to handle the pace early BUT your downfall may come is in the second half with there being a few more hills and the possible rise in heat (if it is anything like last year). The first 3 - 5kms is going to be hard due to the volume of people around you and trying to run 4.30 per km early may feel like 4.20 - 25 with all the zigging and zagging you will have to do before the crowd thins out. You may hold it together and still sneak under 1hr 40mins but you may also blow up and slow even more.

So the question really comes down to how much confidence do you have to run either strategy? As you said, you had a great 15km in training but this was in an environment that you controlled with no-one around and will you feel that good again in 1 week?

The end choice has to be yours as there is nothing wrong with continuing along the journey and sticking to a more conservative race approach but I also think that to really know your limitations and abilities, there is nothing wrong with having a "red-hot-go" at your desired goal time. Don't let fear stand in the way if you believe you are capable of doing it but also don't take the conservative approach and then have regrets.

As a coach I would say take option 1 as I want you to get alot out of the race and finish it wanting more but then as an athlete I have always lived by option 2.

The secret is to back yourself and do all the right things with hydrating and taking your gels.

Good Luck,

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