Thursday, January 13, 2011

5k pacing

Next week I have my second 5k race in two weeks. Since I feel like I ran as hard as I could last race, and since I don't expect to make any measurable improvement in only two weeks, I've been thinking about how to approach this next race. I've decided to experiment a bit with it, and try to be more disciplined with my pacing.

Looking back on my last two 5k's, I see a common trend. The table below shows my splits from my last three 5k's, but it's the most recent two (K and SB) that interest me the most:

The table shows my pace for each mile, my pace for the last .1, and my average pace for the entire race. Also, for each race a second (color) column shows the difference between the pace and the average overall pace. The image is a screenshot from Excel. Since Excel can't display a negative time, I used red to show negative. So if my pace was faster than average, it's green. If it was slower than average, it's red.

Here's what jumps out at me: As a new runner, I fall into the trap of sprinting out of the gate and paying the price later in the race.

With that in mind, here's my goal for next week: DON'T fall into the trap of sprinting out of the gate and paying the price later in the race.

Stated another way: Aim for even or negative splits.

I did some searching online for articles about race pacing and found several good ones, including a few linked below. I also found some workouts for negative split training:

Last night I tried one of the 5k negative split workouts at the link above. I did the 5x1000m intervals, where each interval is supposed to be faster than the last. Interval 1 is at tempo pace (8:04); interval 2 at 10k pace (7:57); interval 3 at 5k pace (7:40); interval 4 at 5s faster than 5k pace (7:35); and interval 5 as fast as you can go (??). 2min walking/rest between intervals. Also did 800m warm-up and cool-down. 
Here were my splits: 
I1: 5:02 (8:08 pace) 
I2: 4:58 (7:56 pace) 
I3: 4:48 (7:43 pace) 
I4: 4:43 (7:39 pace) 
I5: 4:42 (7:34 pace) 
I was a little slow on most of these, but it's hard for me to run a specific steady pace when I'm running this hard, and I was really trying not to go too fast so that I would accomplish the negative splits.

Tiger cub, exhausted after playing all day wit...Image via Wikipedia

And, no kidding: this was a tough workout!

So over the next several days I'm going to work on coming up with some target splits for next week's race. And I'm going to commit to following them, especially at the beginning of the race.

Here are links to a couple of articles on race pacing that I found interesting:
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