at the races Ace Your Race with Rachel and Reid: pt III, Racing Technique

Ace Your Race with Rachel and Reid: pt III, Racing Technique

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Between now and October 21, iRun is joining forces with New Balance and elite superhero marathon runners Reid Coolsaet and Rachel Hannah to help you run the race of your life. Each week, we’ll present a new instalment from either Hannah or Coolsaet about how to improve one aspect of your running life. But wait, it gets better! Because New Balance also sponsors Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, where Coolsaet will be racing and where we’ll be making a special limited-edition race magazine after the race! Want us to profile you and your run? Simply tell us what you do in response to the phenomenon our race Gods are describing. Make sense? For instance, here’s Coolsaet on how to race smartly. What do you do? Let us know, and be included—picture and all—besides our cover stars.  

A slight negative split is the way to race—running the second half of your race just a little bit faster than the first half. The newer you are to your event, the more a negative split you’ll need—if you’re trying a new distance, you just don’t know how you’ll feel at the end of your race.

It’s good to be conservative and I pace myself in the hopes that I’m going to have a negative split. Still, that’s always a “hope,” because I’ve been fairly aggressive on that front. My PB in the marathon—2:10:28—was close to even, but actually a slight positive split. On that day, I was thinking I was going to run 65 minutes for the first half and I was hoping to go slightly faster—but it didn’t happen. Instead I ran with a pace group and I wasn’t going to go faster or slower, with the group, for the first 30K.

As important as it is to keep the proper pace, it’s also maybe just as important to find your pace group—it’s really good if you can find someone to pace you. There’s lots of benefits: it takes away some of the mental thinking and instead lets you focus on your splits, plus having a group to run with helps block some of the wind. There’s also an energy from running with a pack, and even if the group is going a few seconds faster-per-kilometre than I had prepared for, I’ll go and do that because I think the good outweighs the risk. I did that in Fukuoka 2016.

I think every race is going to be different. But if you can go into your event with a good race plan, and one that you execute—more or less—and fall in with a pack, I think you’re setting yourself up to have a very good race.