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Author Topic: Strategies for Marathon  (Read 807 times)
dave rockness
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« on: March 01, 2012, 02:12:49 pm »

I'm curious.  Most people swear by negative splits (or close to them) to achieve most efficient and productive times.  However, I have not found that to be the case with me.  I'm relatively new to distance running, yet have now run 8-10 marathons over the past 4 years.  My pr is a 3:06 (age 40), yet I ran the first half that pr in 1:29.  There have been a couple of marathons in which I have started slower (1:33-1:35 half) with the hopes of negative splitting (or close to it).  What I have found is that whether I start with 6:40-50ish pace or 7:10-15ish pace, I slow down in the last 6-10 miles.  If I start at 6:40ish pace, by mile twenty I'm going 7:05ish.  If I start at 7:05ish pace, by mile 20 I'm going 7:20ish.  It's not like I'm able to save energy and then am really able push miles 22-26.  It's more like this quicker I can get to 22-26, the more energy I have at the end.  In most cases, I've trained with 70-80 mile weeks for 3months or more.  This seems to be the case for me in shorter distances as well (10k-half marathon).  When I start conservatively, I end slower.  When I start fast, I still finish slower, but not as slowly- does this make sense??  Could my weight have anything to do with this?? I usually run at 178-184lbs.  Or do some people just do better by starting out faster.  I'm sure there's a fine line and I'd love to hear others weigh in on this.
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Jon Allen
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2012, 05:57:42 pm »

As long as you don't start out crazy fast, keep doing what works for you.  It is hard to pick up the pace when you're tired, and we tend to get locked into a pace.  Pete Pfitzinger says the ideal marathon is about a 2-3% slowdown.  So, keep starting pretty fast!
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MarkP_
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2012, 12:24:38 pm »

The last 10-20% of any race is the hardest.  Maybe look at your liquid, carbs or salt levels and try to figure out a way to keep a little of that glycogen available near the end.
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Kam
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2012, 01:36:03 pm »

I'm with you, Dave.  The slowdown seems inevitable, so it seems reasonable to run as quickly as possible before it arrives.  I've wondered it this condition would improve as I gained more marathon experience, but so far it hasn't.
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dave rockness
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2012, 05:24:38 pm »

Maybe it will come with time.  My running partner (14 years older than me) swears by negative splits and is still recording 3:15 marathons at age 55.  I've given it a try a couple times, but not the result I was hoping for.  Think I'll start fast for my next couple marathons and experiment again later on.  Thanks for the input!
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April G
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« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2012, 10:37:13 pm »

I haven't had that experience.   My best marathon was off a conservative start with a negative split.  If I go too fast at the beginning I die a horrible death at the end!
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allie
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2012, 07:04:48 am »

i've experienced it both ways -- a major factor for me was the layout of the course. some courses are more conducive for conservative starts and faster finishes, while others start out fast and then provide more challenges in the later miles (i.e. boston). it's easier to negative split if you start out a lot slower than your current fitness level, but that can also bring in the risk of leaving too much on the table. also, as already mentioned, once you get locked into a pace for several miles, it becomes difficult to change gears.
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dave rockness
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2012, 07:50:49 am »

Now that makes sense...I've been unable to articulate effectively the "locked-in" aspect of pace.  No matter what speed I "lock-in" to, I find it very difficult to shift to a slightly fast gear and tend to do the 2% slow-down somewhere between miles 16 and 22- maybe some of it is mental.  Also, it makes sense on the type of course you are running.  Almost half of my marathons have been at Boston- starts fast (even if you feel you are running conseratively) and hits hills in 2nd third of the course.  Thanks for good insight. 
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David S
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2012, 01:37:55 pm »

I have run my past 3 marathons with a negative split - PR'ing on each one.  I tend to start conservatively and end up being able to pick it up on the second half.  Of those 3 I only slowed down at the very end at CIM, but I think that is because I had kept my intensity up a bit too much during the taper period and my legs did not have much left in them at the end. I still managed a negative split though it was only 1 minute or so. All three courses were very different, so it can be done on on pretty much any course other than one with lots of hills at the end, like Allie mentions.

I think I am able to run negative splits because it is something I practice in most of my long runs, starting slowly, picking up in the middle, and making the last couple hard. 

I can't say if running a negative split is "the way" to race a marathon, but it sure beats going out too fast and suffering later.

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