Training Tip Friday #7

Play with pacing….


Research suggests that racing with negative splits might be most effective for performance, however in many real life situations even elite athletes (possibly as a result of competitive nature of an event) will slow as the event goes on.  But what is the best strategy for you?


Are you better off starting fast, and trying to hang on?

What if you start too hard?  Will you fade significantly?  What will be the impact of running out of energy (in longer events) or how much can you cope with lactate build-up in shorter events?  Will starting faster actually carry you along with better athletes to a better outcome?  How fast is too fast????


…or will steadily building your effort (or pace) through an event get a better result?

Will you gain motivation by passing people in the final part of your race?  Will you feel stronger and have more to give at the finish?  But what if you start too slowly, will you have already lost too much time? What is the ideal pace to start out at?

Questions, questions, questions.  ….and as we are all individuals trying to perform over a variety of distances in different events, there is probably no one correct answer.  However our training tip this week is to try to play with pacing and do something different to see how your body and performance responds.  You might be surprised by the outcome!


In a training session or non-important race, try starting easy and building pace, or start like a lunatic and hang on.  Don’t just give it one attempt, trying it on multiple occasions.  Make a note of how much your splits change, and tweak the strategy for different distances or events.

For example, in Olympic distance triathlons, I gained great focus by being able to pass people on bike and run, and it aided my performance and I got stronger and stronger as the race went on.  Whereas in running races I feel I better perform going off hard, and trying to race with the competition by hanging in, but fading towards the end of the race a little.  In Ironman, I never quite seemed to get pacing right and faded a little too badly towards the end.


Don’t be scared to try different tactics, see what happens and learn from it.


Pacing may be seen as crucial in longer events, but try to alter your strategy to find the best race outcome for you.  In triathlon I always felt better getting stronger as the event went on, passing people on the bike and run, but in pure running events, I perform better when I start hard, and get into a race.    What works for you?


Of course a review of your physiology will also give us a great insight into how you might better perform in different situations, but don’t be scared to try something new.


Until next week…