Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Importance of Pacing and Pacers

There are 3 days to go for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, and most runners are discussing their 'goal' time and how to get there. In my capacity, I am lucky to interact with several runners and I am amazed at their lack of a plan to hit their target time, or a plan which is clearly not going to succeed.

The best way to succeed is to have a plan, which takes each km into account. Most runners talk about positive and negative splits- which basically indicates whether your first half is shorter, or longer than the second half of your run. Going by the nature of the Mumbai terrain and weather, I think its very difficult to do a negative split (faster second half) for the full marathon. If you are not used to setting a pacing schedule for yourself, the easiest way would be to try and achieve an 'even' pace throughout the run.

Make a simple excel sheet which has the goal times that you need to hit each km marker (or you can split the race into 5 km segments- though you risk losing accuracy by doing that), miniaturize the sheet, and keep a printout in your pocket. Trust me, even if you are good in math, after 25 km in the blazing sun, your mind will not be functioning at its sharpest. Of course, an even easier way is to get yourself a GPS enabled watch, and adjust the 'virtual partner' to your goal time.

If your goal is to run at any of the times, that the pacers will be running at, then I strongly recommend running with a pacer. It takes away all the tedious calculation, and all you need to do is stick with the group. You need to choose your pacing group wisely, and I would suggest selecting a group, which is within 5 minutes of your goal time for the half marathon, or 10 min for the full marathon. Any further and you risk 'blowing out' too soon if you are with a faster group, and risk not meeting your goal time if you are with a slower group.

Here is a link for the various pacing groups for this Sunday's marathon:

And here are the top 5 reasons why you should run with a Pacer in the SCMM. These reasons have been sent to me by my friend, Mr. Venkat, who is the pacer for the 3 hour bus for the half marathon.

1. You are in safe hands.

- Pacers know the route well and being accomplished runners know how best to tackle the distance. They are skilled in completing the distance and now running below their race pace have a lot of 'reserve' to do things well. You are in safe hands.

2. They do the maths.

- Pacing can be quite a complicated affair. And when you are mentally exhausted numbers can befuddle you. Pacers run with a pacing chart / plan / strategy and know their numbers. They can get you there without you having to do the numbers. You mentally run more 'lighter' and enjoy the event.

3. Gain tips / advice.

- Pacers being experts have quite a bit of knowledge under their belt.
When running along they are quite willing to share running tips with you. An interesting conversation all along with the Pacer and with others makes the distance very light work.

4. Running in a group can be fun.

- You have a choice on race day. Run alone and suffer it out. Or Run along with the pacing group and enjoy the picnic. And Pacers know how to motivate you as the Peddar road flyover comes in or the Sun beats down on you on Marine Drive.

5. And lastly - It's free.

- That sure is a clincher...running with a Pacer is free...courtesy of the good souls who agree to run slower than their own race pace and Procam the organizers of SCMM



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