This is my third post specifically on pacing and tactics. In my first two I shared research supported race pacing as well as some elite examples. This time my focus is tactics. Throw all the perfect pace, negative split stuff out the door.
There is a major assumption before employing tactics you have to understand: that is, you are in race-ready shape and are similarly conditioned to your competition. Only if you can answer this with the affirmative can you start to expect tactics to make a difference in your racing and your results against specific opponents. If you are not in shape and they are, you will be beaten regardless of your tactics as long as they don’t do something stupid.
To answer what are some strategies you can employ to gain advantages; we must do an analysis.
The first step is to know yourself. When designing tactics you must include both psychological (your personal attitudes) as well as physiological (your training) aspects. Answer questions like these:
- Do you thrive and get energy from leading or do you feel pressured?
- Does being passed by someone deflate you or fire you up?
- When you get tired, labor, or breath extra hard do you “fight” or do you “fold”?
- Do you firmly believe that you can beat your competition or that they are better runners than you?
- Are you generally better than other runners on a hilly course or a flat course?
- Are you generally better than other runners running uphill or downhill?
- Can you bide your time and be patient without losing that competitive “edge”?
- Do you fair better or worse in comparison to others in adverse weather, course or other environmental conditions?
- How well do you “read” your competition and how they are fairing in the race when you run near them?
- Do you have a great natural ability for speed (sprinting)?
- Once you begin pushing the pace, what are your limits – how long can you go at it before letting up?
- Do you run with a team? Is the plan to set yourself or someone else up to win?
- And finally and very importantly, how does your competition run races; and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
There are more angles to explore in finding you ideal tactics. But these questions are a good start. Think of tactics as a tool chest. You will not get away with (i.e. succeed) the same tactics with all opponents in all conditions. In order to truly be the most successful you must be flexible in your approach. Otherwise, if your competition is smart, they will size you up and figure out the right strategy to beat you!
It’s one thing to have a strategy, it’s another to be ready to employ it. Next up – strategies and how to train for them.