Race Pacing

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  • #27736

    Could someone please point me to some good resources on using training data to plan race pacing? Thanks!

Posted In: Mountain Running

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    Anonymous on #27763


    There’s no simple way to use training data for race pacing. It all depends upon the length of the race. On race day you are going to be rested and excited and it is easy to get swept up with the pack. So, chances are good that you will start out too fast for your own good. You’ll likely need to consciously “hold back” when you start.

    Even in the shorter races that we tend to address like a VK or Skimo it is entirely too easy to go out too fast thinking that you are loosing time to your rivals. Both real world empirical data and studies have shown that starting out too fast, even by just a few seconds/km will usually translate to a slowing by many minutes/km in the final stages of the race.

    In the end I think pacing is one of the “dark” skills of racing that can only be learned through trial and error.


    Anonymous on #27799

    One thing that I’ve found helpful is to learn my ventilation rates relative to heart rates and cadence when I’m training. I then use that during races rather than heart rate. I’ve found that ventilation most closely reflects output. It’s my Poor Man’s Power Meter.

    After watching ventilation for a long time (several years), I now have a good idea of where my thresholds and race paces are. I use cadence as a check against ventilation.

    For example, in a VK, I would start off the line using an in-out breathing cadence of 2-2; two steps in, two steps out. That roughly equals my aerobic threshold. So starting off at that intensity intentionally holds me back a bit. After I settle into that pace, then I’ll move to 2-1 (~Z3), then 1-1 (anaerobic threshold), then out of sync (above AnT) for the last all-out minutes to the finish.

    It probably sounds strange, but I’ve found it much better for racing than heart rate.

    NOTE: Cadence will vary based on the activity. For uphill events (skimo and VKs), I use what I’ve described above. For flat runs, the cadence almost doubles. For cycling, it’s even higher. For muscular endurance work (weighted uphills), the relevant cadence is super low.

    OwenFW on #27980

    Huh, that’s interesting. What about thinking in terms of ratios of time in each HR zone? Like, how much time needs to be spent (theoretically) in each lower-intensity zone for each unit of time in a higher intensity zone? E.g. If I spend ten minutes in Z4, how much time would I need to spend in Z1 for my body to recover enough for another ten minutes in Z4 if I wanted to repeat that cycle for some given number of hours? I suspect I’m asking for something no one can tell me, but with information like this for each zone, coupled with corresponding paces, it wouldn’t be hard to build an excel spreadsheet that would use an optimization function to minimize total time for a given distance. You could even incorporate the effect of HR drift on HR to pace ratios if you had past measurements for that.

    This is really just a geeky tangent from the specific question I’m trying to wrap my head around, which is what (generally) I should do with my HR on my next race, which is a trail marathon with about 3.5K of vert.

    Anonymous on #28006

    Your question reminds me of two things:

    * I used to wish for that too, and I tried to figure it out, but all of that stuff goes out the window once the gun goes off; and
    * Mike Tyson said it best, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

    The ratios you’re after would vary by person, so it’s impossible to make recommendations. You’d have to experiment in training and then hope you can remember it during a race. But I’m skeptical it’s even possible. I think the mental overhead of tracking that would be way too much.

    Training and racing are very different, and it took me years to figure out what works for me where. The best thing I can suggest is to go into as many races as will fit in your training schedule. Try different things, and don’t care about the result. Learning how to train is somewhat predictable and more “white belt”. Learning how YOU should race is an art and more “black belt”.

    The one common thing I would say to everyone is what Scott J. already said: Start slower than you think you should. Scott’s advice to me years ago was:

    “Do you want to attack at the start, when everyone’s fresh? Or later, when everyone’s tired?”

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