Pacing by Dirk Hays

Pacing the Middle Half

How do you plan to run the Middle Half this year? Do you have a time goal in mind? I’ve been asked to pace the 1:45 group again this year. My plan will be even pacing for the entire distance. That’s 8:00 minute miles from the start until the finish.  We will run an even effort for the 13.1 miles.

Choices for pacing are “even splits”,”negative split” or a “positive split”. The positive split or putting time in the bank is how I raced in the past. Most runners go out to fast and slow down towards the end of the race. Runners start out at a slightly quicker pace, say 7:45 or quicker. Then they settle into a 8:00 pace for most of the rest of the distance. This gives them “time in the bank” when they start to slow in the final miles. The danger in this approach is slowing to much in the final miles and losing all of your banked time. This is how lot’s of first time racers finish their first race. They feel great running those 7:45 minute miles until mile eight or nine and then the wheels fall off. We’ll pass these runners, they’ll be walking or drastically struggling to maintain a 9:00 mile or slower. Their time goal will be shot.

The negative split is the complete opposite approach. The runner with this plan is going to start out slower for the first few miles and then pick up the pace. Runners here start around 8:15 or a little slower for the first mile or two. Gradually picking up the pace to around 8:00 pace and then pushing harder in the final miles to a quicker pace of 7:45 or quicker. The only real negative in this approach is being to conservative in the first few miles and giving up more time on the front end than you gain in the final miles. I would bet for the 8:00 pace we run, less than a handful of runners will be able to successfully pull off this plan. At least that we will see after mile eight or farther.

My goal is 8:00 minute miles from the start. That way you don’t go out to fast, burning up energy  and then slowing in the final miles. The first four miles should feel really easy. We’ll run down Greenland towards the square and then turn towards Oakland’s Mansion. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of seeing the lead runners coming towards you as you head the other direction. Plus you see the entire field as you head down Mainstreet.

When we make the turn by the Boulevard Bar we’ll be halfway home. We’ll still be running 8 minute miles. The next few miles you’ll benefit from not going out to fast. You should be still be running comfortably. Around mile eight is when the fatigue will start to show. At mile nine is when we’ll be adjacent to the MTSU campus. This will the another opportunity to see the runners ahead of you. This is also the point in the race to make a decision. Do you have enough left to push at a quicker pace? I’ll still be doing the 8:00 miles and crossing the line at 1:45.

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