I 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.
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.