Marathons, The Wall, and Smart Strategy

Marathons, The Wall, and Smart StrategyI need a watch.

I learned that during the Maine Marathon, where I actually had a ‘strategy’, but having a poor one is really no strategy at all. My strategy? Just go as fast as I can until the wheels fall off, or I hit the finish line, whichever comes first.

The wall.

Did I mention that when doing that in a marathon the ‘wheels falling off’ comes first, for pretty much everybody?

Unless they have a smart strategy. And a lot of marathoners do (and I guess I’m a marathoner now, btw, I think, I kinda feel comfortable saying that, at least for this year). The human body is science, and the science is way more true than most people think. If you move this way, muscles will respond that way. If you eat this, that will happen. That means a smart strategy is similar for most people running 26.2 miles.

What’s a smart strategy?

I did some reading after the marathon, and most strategic tips said to NOT run as fast as you can in the beginning, and in fact to hold back. Then in the later miles, you’ve got the reserves to push the pace. Sure, I could have read this stuff beforehand, but I probably wouldn’t have followed the tips anyway since I need to ‘do’ something to truly know it.

Well, enough people passed me in the final miles to ensure that I would know this: I got flogged. I ran like a hero for the first half, and in fact made it about 18 miles at a 7 minute pace, then slowed down a bit, then a bit more, then walked, then ran, then walked, then ran. I didn’t walk nearly as much as I ran, but the running part was getting pretty slow too.

The proof is in the pudding. (Look for me at 3:31:57 and see the half marathon time).

So now it’s time to really become a marathoner. The kind who uses a watch to check splits and to set pace alarms that alert me when I’m ahead or behind. I’ll be testing the new ideas this weekend at the Applefest Half Marathon, where I have a strategy that paces slow for the first few miles, then speeds up to take advantage of the middle downhills and flats, then slows up on the big two-mile uphills between miles 9 and 11, then shoog-boogs the rest of the way…

until the wheels fall off, or I hit the finish line, whichever comes first.

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3 thoughts on “Marathons, The Wall, and Smart Strategy

  1. Your Half Marathon stat was very impressive during the Maine – hell, your whole race was impressive! Yeah, there are those that say save your energy early on & pour it out toward the end. There are those that advocate for just going to the wall with every step. You’ll eventually find what works for you … till then, I hope you’re proud of your accomplishments!!

    As for the watch, I’d loan you my new one, but I don’t think you’d wear it — pink really isn’t your color. I haven’t had your experience — being in a race & finding toward the end that you were “thisclose” but didn’t know it because you didn’t have a visible timer. But it did show me that I wanted one, so I bought the new Garmin Forerunner 10. Nice, simple, without tons of bells & whistles but enough to get the job done. Wore it out on a run recently & you’re right – it’s nice to have something that you can check on the fly to see how you’re doing. Not sure what you’re looking into as far as watches & options, but Garmin’s products seem to have the best reviews. (Or maybe I didn’t read enough into it! hahaha)

    Good luck at the Applefest — can’t wait to hear how you do …. making predictions this time around?? :) I’ll be trying not to crash & burn at the Tufts 10K this weekend. My foot seems to be better, but we’ll have to see. Keeping my fingers crossed for a good showing. :)

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