Strategise for Satara Success - You don't have to be a winner to win
The concept that Winners are the first across the line is a fallacy in running: Quite simply: you don't have to be a winner to win!
Winning can be as simple as achieving a performance that matches your ability at the time of the competition:
It is important to recognise that winning is a combination of two aspects: - Being as fit as you can for the date of the competition and secondly approaching the competition in a way that takes you to your best potential performance on the day.
We have no control over who is in the competition, whether that be at Olympic level or at the local club 10km, but we have total control and responsibility for how we perform on the day.
If, for instance, you were selected for a club or provincial team, to a major event you have a responsibility to the people you are representing to get as well prepared as you possibly can, given your resources, in time for that competition, and that should include NOT racing other events that could detract from your performance on the chosen competition. You fail in this, (and let people down), if you are injured or over-trained by the time race day comes around.
The majority of runners do not have the challenge of representing, (being responsible to), others, but if you truly want to achieve that goal, you have the same level of responsibility to yourself! In many cases that can be a harder taskmaster!
But your goal is not guaranteed even if you get to race morning in the best ever condition physically and mentally!
It is so easy to ‘stuff up’ your race performance by going in without any strategy or battle-plan that will ensure you achieve your best performance for the conditions.
Sunday’s PNB Satara Hills Half Marathon is a grueling event and there is absolutely nothing you can do over the next few days that will improve your level of fitness. That level of fitness determines the absolute best time you can do in the race, and this should be your starting point for a Strategy to Success.
It is one thing to run a race on the flat where it is easy to see that even effort is basically even or consistent pace. For instance a 10km in 50 minutes requires the runner to run 5 minutes per km and although it is best to start the first couple of kilometres around 5-10 seconds slower, and the last 3-4km slightly faster, the basic principle of even pace and effort are obvious.
This is not the case in an undulating race or the desperately steep climb and earth plummeting drop of a race like the Satara Hills Half Marathon that climbs, (and then falls), 380 metres in each half of 10.5 kilometres!!!
The amount of effort to run up a hill depends on the slope of a hill. Clearly running at 5 minutes per km on the flat requires less effort than running 5 minutes per km up a 3% gradient and so for the same, or equal effort, the pace needs to drop.
By contrast less effort is used to run 5 minutes per km on a downhill. Therefore for the same amount of effort (energy) a runner can run perhaps 15 or 20 seconds per km faster.
The best times are run with even effort so we need to determine a good strategy for our target time, which you will remember from above has already been set by out fitness.
[The table shown gives an indication of the time you can do on Satara Hills compared to your current 10km and 21km time on the flat]
This means splitting the race up into ‘landmark’ points, (or key km marks), and allocating a time that we should take to cover each of the sections allowing for the uphill and downhill of that section.
This has already been done for you for the PNB Satara Hills Half Marathon with pacing bands for each of nine Time Goals. This information will be available at the Expo / Registration
So lets summarise the basic strategy:
• Commence by making sure you have warmed up prior to the race.
• The first kilometre is one of the steepest in the uphill climb so do not be afraid to take it a bit easier, and even a short 30 second walk while you handle the crowds is a good thing
• Although the incline eases off for the next 3km be aware of your effort level and don't get carried along by others who are going too fast. Punctuate the run with walks but at 1-2km intervals and keep them short to 30-45 seconds
• The section from 4km to 7km varies from very steep to “ridiculously” steep, which is of course the attraction and challenge of this event, so be prepared to mix walking and running, using perhaps 1 minute run and 30 seconds walk, or even 30 seconds run 30 seconds walk on the really steep sections.
• From 7km it is a bit easier but there is a final steep section of about 500m before the 10km that requires similar respect.
• Your objective must be to get to the turn round point with energy still in your legs and not having over-exerted yourself. If you have done too much you will not have the legs to run downhill and then your time is lost.. Remember it is better to have gone slower than faster to half way because you can always use any extra energy on the steep down hills to get even faster, but if there is nothing left the downhill is of little assistance.
• Many runners forget the two relatively gentle but surprisingly long climbs on the way back to 11km and roughly 13km. Be prepared to slow your pace a bit there, before heading downhill from 14km
• The key to a good time now lies with the downhill running style. The idea is to lean forward until you are at right angles to the slope of the hill and your feet are landing virtually underneath so you roll down the hill using maximum gravity. If you feel like you are going to fall on your face you have the correct lean!
• With 18.5km done the route flattens and it means your pace will drop, and it feels as though you have ground to a halt but if you simply relax you can keep the required effort and even ease off a bit for the couple of undulations before you reach the 19km mark.
• From 19km its virtually downhill all the way and this is where you then commit all remaining energy to running with as good a downhill style as possible – keeping in mind that final 900m is on the very steep section you started on earlier in the morning.
It’s important to honour your responsibility to yourself to achieve your best, but equally its vital to enjoy the race on Sunday !
That final 40 metre sprint in from the gate is your chance to celebrate your WIN – a win based on strategising your Satara Success!
Written by Coach Norrie - see FB pages Norrie Williamson or OM Virtualcoach Norrie