I’ve written on this topic before but when prime examples come up it’s always nice to plug the concept. Pacing – EVEN pacing – for distance runners has been shown to be the most efficient and effective manner in racing to fast times. It is more economical than erratic paces throughout. It is more economical than going out hard – “banking time” – and trying to hang on. It is more economical than going out conservative waiting to finish with a negative split (faster last half).
A little over a month ago we saw an out of sight marathon time run at Boston by Moses Mosop (2:03:06 2nd place). In case you think it was only due to “the course and tailwind” you need to consider another feat he just accomplished a couple weeks ago (June 3). The setting was on the famed University of Oregon track. The event was a little run 30K (18.63 miles) with a 25K split taken. The bottom line is that he ran new world records for both events (and since they are on a track there is no debate on the efficacy of this effort). He broke the longstanding records by Toshiko Seko in ’81. But it is how he got there that is just as interesting.
30k is 75 laps on a track. Flash back to his Boston Marathon experience where he averaged just 4:42/mile (70.5/400). On this day he ran 30K in 1:26:47 (passing 25k in 1:12.25). Do the math. He averaged 69.4 seconds for each lap (4:39.4/mile).
[Reality check workout – go do 200s in just under 35 with a 30 second rest between each and see how many you can do.]
But HOW he did this is the amazing thing. He strung together the first 38 laps between 69-71. He then surged slightly with laps 66-68 for the next 9 laps (oh ya lap 45 was in 63.2 – my guess is to assure the record @ 25K). Fatigued or not, the next 26 laps were between 68-70 with a finishing lap in 63.3.
His slowest lap was 71.7.
About 60 of his 75 laps were within 3 seconds of each other.
It is through meticulous pacing that he conserved energy and meted it out over the entire distance. This took patience (something most of us runners are not prone to have). This took discipline. This took mental toughness as well as physical toughness. It took extensive and intensive training at goal pacing.
It leaves no doubt that his Boston effort was not a fluke. And having run almost 19 miles at 4:39/mile also leaves little doubt that he and Geoffrey Mutai (winner of Boston in 2:03:02) no doubt would have set world marathon bests (currently 2:03:59 Gebreselassie) anywhere on any course.
The lesson is clear. You have to practice pacing – GOAL pacing specifically. And you have to get good at it. Do your speed work. Do your distance work. But you have to do goal pacing work. There is no substitute. You cannot go willy-nilly with your training running all kinds of different paces and expect positive results. This is especially true of younger runners.
If you cannot pick your pace out from everyone else in a race; if you cannot find that rhythm; if you only rely on a GPS unit (see past posts on their inaccuracies); then you are not 100% prepared to run the most economical and effective manner in reaching new PRs!