Sunday, September 11, 2011

From the fire roads to the interstate

I raced in the Canberra Times 10k this morning — my first road 10k since last year's race at the Gold Coast on 3 July. Then: 49:26. Today: 46:23. So, a nice improvement, but aside from that, I was most happy about how my legs felt. They were springy! Especially so during the first 3k, prior to the gradual 2k climb up by Julia's house (I didn't see her cheering).

My race tactics were to run an even effort from the start, try to pick off a few rivals along the way, and to finish strongly. I was moderately successful. Ran through 1k in 4:25 before spotting Jim up ahead then gradually pegging him back by 3k. He was slowing though, so I set my sights on Charlie, about 80 metres ahead. For the rest of the race the elastic in that gap only varied slightly — until, that is, the final kilometre. Suddenly I could see that I was catching him! I put in a major effort and closed to within 10 metres before the last little rise, 100 metres or so before the finish. Then it was a matter of kicking very hard inside the last 30 metres to take the 'victory' by less than a second. It had been a fun race!

I like racing! As I've said in earlier blogs, I much prefer tactical racing than 'time-trialing' during a race (with the goal of running a personal best time for the distance). The recent World Championships in Daegu has me thinking about the tactics I might employ during races to finish ahead of my rivals. For instance, I could just run hard out in front and hope to burn them off — like Binnaz Uslu did in her heat of the women's 3000m steeplechase. Or I could follow the pace à la Jennifer Barringer Simpson in the women's 1500 final before kicking hard off the final turn (Joe wrote a nice piece about Jenny B). Or I could run steadily with my rivals for over half the race before putting in a withering surge, leaving them demoralised (as Abel Kirui did by running a 14:18 5k split from 25 to 30k in the men's marathon). I have lots of opportunities for racing coming up, with the commencement of our Spring/Summer racing season. The ACT Veterans organise track racing on Thursday evenings and the YMCA of Canberra Runner's Club have a 5k series starting on 1 November.

I'm wondering how you, the readers of this blog, go about racing? How many of you run races as time-trials and how many enjoy employing tactics against your rivals as I do? If it's the latter, what tactics do you use? Promise I won't tell!

Tortoise beats Hare at Copley Square in BostonI used tortoise tactics to beat Charlie today - as I perfected at Copley Square in Boston on our recent holiday


Blogger Two Fruits said...

always preferred tactical races, trying to stay in front or outsprint at the finish. Otherwise, it's just a time trial.

6:17 pm  
Blogger strewth said...

I like to play a game when I'm in a race, trying to catch the person in front of me, pass them and then make the next person my target. It helps to keep me focussed and keeps me amused! :-)

8:54 pm  
Blogger strewth said...

PS: Well done on a great run today and best of all, for feeling springy. Your training plan is obviously working for you:-)

8:55 pm  
Anonymous Julie said...

I think Daegu is on lots of racers' minds. JS and I had a long conversation about the women's 1500 last night, in relation to my mile effort this morning.

The conclusion we came to is that your typical road race isn't going to resemble a world championship race on the track. Lest that sound totally unhelpful, I will say this: my strategy today is to try to run a fast but controlled pace for the first half, then try to hold it for most of the second and accelerate over the last 150-200m if possible.

That's what I saw in every women's 1500 this summer, so I may as well give it a try.

Nice improvement in the 10K, Ewen. Something's working!

Love the picture too.

9:19 pm  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

I am not fortunate, as you are, to be racing against friends. They're just faceless enemies, so I try to hang around and bury them in the last 400m.

As for you Ewen, I think your best tactic should be the 14:18 5k withering surge.

10:16 pm  
Blogger Lize Brittin said...

Congrats on the race! It sounds like you are feeling good and making improvements. Right on!

1:55 am  
Blogger speedygeoff said...

Springy? As for me, I am waiting to feel summery before I run fast again.

Strewth, my tactics in the Vets Handicaps are, I try to catch Ewen. Then in the second kilometre ...

9:15 am  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Congratulations, that's a HUGE improvement and with springy legs as well? You're in a different zone now, Ewen, very exciting.

I'm still learning tactics because I tend to think more of the clock than rivals. I regretted letting my presence be known to a rival at a 5k I did last year because she held it longer than I thought she could, but if I'd have stayed behind till the end, I woulda got her! :)

12:29 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

2F, I like to stay ahead of you in the handicaps by running at the slowest possible speed ;)

Strewth, thanks. I think I'm at a good stage in the plan - looking forward to shorter races... and the track!

Julie, hope your strategy was successful - I'll be checking shortly. The curves of the track bring tactics into play for 800s and 1500/miles, especially if one is in a graded race where abilities are similar - I'm lucky to have such races on offer with the ACT Veterans.

Bob, I'll take that on board... once I can run a 400 at that pace, which is unlikely. I'd like to run a 5k with the 4th k my fastest one day.

Thanks Lize. Something's working. Wish I knew exactly what it is ;)

Speedygeoff, I'll defeat that tactic by running in the short handicap next time.

Flo, yes, I remember that race report! Trouble is, now you're so fit she'll be in your dust from the opening mile.

8:19 pm  
Blogger Thomas said...

In a 5k, I go all out and hang on for dear life further down the road.

Anything else I'd recommend even pacing. It's great to reel in the runners who have started too fast!

10:44 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

You know me Ewen, the master tactician. I have one trick were I will sit on the shoulder of a rival making sounds like I'm this "human beatbox".

I'll hang with them no matter how fast they speed up until they get the message that the only way out is to drop behind me. Good tactic unless the person likes to punch people in the head or they like "Beatbox" music!

By the way, nice photo! I always thought you had hare on your arse.

8:48 am  
Blogger Janene said...

A great run in the CTFR Ewen :-). Oh to be able to race again. It's been well over a year and I'm just going backwards. I ran a PW by over a minute in the 5K on Sunday :-(. I won't be one of your rivals on the track this year, but will cheer from the sidelines.

10:15 am  
Blogger speedygeoff said...

When the CTFR results come out it will be interesting to see whether Janine's 5k PW on Sunday is faster or slower than my 5k PW on Friday at Customs... My guess is, much faster.

11:04 am  
Blogger speedygeoff said...

oops. she spells her name "Janene", don't ask me why. But my brain stayed asleep till noon today. Lucky brain.

5:54 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thomas, I've raced many 5ks using that method and it's bloody painful. Speedygeoff was telling me yesterday about the time he was ahead of Deek 3k into a 10k fun run... but didn't stay there!

That's good Scott. I laughed. Twice! One of my rivals uses a similar tactic. HWH (we call him that because he used to drop out of races at half way) is a loud breather and sits right on your shoulder before unleashing his kick. The only way to beat him is to get away mid-race. He used to run the 400 in 47 seconds.

Thanks Janene. I hope you're back on the track, if not this year, before the season's over. I remember that 5k where you raced with Thea and ran a great time. I was hoping we could share the pace in a few races.

Speedyjeff, my guess is at least 5 minutes faster.

8:52 pm  
Blogger Sling Runner said...

Well done on the 10k improvement. I am currently more of a time-trial person. The issue with that is once I know I am behind my goal pace, then my system (mind and body) will shut down. And the race didn't turn out to be a 'race'.

6:30 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Sling, I don't think you're alone there. Keeping motivated to suffer pain in a long race is difficult once splits indicate a goal time isn't achievable. Being racy in a marathon probably isn't a good idea, unless you're an Abel Kirui ;)

6:59 pm  
Blogger Black Knight said...

A very good race and finishing time. Indeed the race tactics are possible if we are well trained and in shape. You are!

8:02 pm  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

Sorry for my late arrival, congrats on your improving form, good to see :0]
I guess I run my main races as time trials but it's good to have FUN the rest of the time and play around abit.
Happy running :0]

5:38 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Stefano. I stuffed up the possibility of different tactics in my most recent race by going out too fast. A beginner's mistake!

9:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been out of the loop for a while so it is good to read that you are training and racing well. I suspect that the thyroid replacement has played an important part. Nonetheless I agree that if you want to run some fast 5K’s you need to get some spring in your stride and an increased proportion of faster work should help that.

It is great to see Paula is back in contention again. As I understand it, following her disappointing finish in the 10,000m in Sydney in 2000, she really worked on getting a bit more spring in her stride, including lots of bunny hops etc . This seems to have served her well even in the longer races.

9:50 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Canute, great to hear from you again! I thought you may have retired from running and taken up lawn bowls ;)

That's super interesting about Paula. I think the requirement for a springy stride is (roughly) inversely proportional to age. The more we age, the more we need to work on strength and springiness. Her 2:23 at Berlin shows her springy stride will be used to good effect in the 2012 Olympics.

11:42 am  

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