Any competition is, first of all, an attempt to beat oneself. If you can cope with this task, you can win in the overall standings.
This task is a combination of 2 parts:
✅ Your overall training and functional fitness;
✅ Your mental strength and ability to execute the plan;
Below we will focus specifically on planning and executing the race plan.
Any distance requires a plan. You need to be mentally ready to make it happen. For this you need experience and preparation.
Most amateurs do the same mistake. They start way too fast and loose chances to beat yourself by suffering the second half of race.
This is a painful mistake that kills motivation and deteriorates trust in structural training or coach. The real reason is in one’s head. When our emotions win, we loose!
Let’s have a look at different running distances and see what is important:
3 km track and field. The secret of the 3 km race is in the last 400 m. If you can accelerate, you can probably win the race. Even if you are not in the lead for the first 2.5 km. We often see leaders losing to those who are able to sprint in the last 400m.
10 km cross. The first 5 km are important in order not to let the opponent go too far, while keeping energy for the second 5 km. Having run the second half faster than the first, you will almost certainly “eat” those who went too far at the beginning. How to do it? Just run the first section 5 sec / km slower than your target pace. Let’s say, you plan to run 10 km in 45 minutes. Your target pace is 4:30 min / km. Then, the plan is: the first 5 km at 4:35, the second 5 km — try to increase the pace by 5 seconds for each subsequent 1 km: 4: 30–4: 25–4: 20–4: 15–4: 15 , and so on.
Planning is critical for 21.1 km The first 3–5 km are needed to “run in” your own pace. There is a long part from 6th to 18th km, when you have to maintain the speed gained at the beginning. The final 3 km (18th to 21st km) you need to run really fast. As fast as the first 3K. Can you do this? It would be just perfect!
42.2 km (marathon) is a grandmaster’s distance. Here, self-control and distribution of energy over distance plays a key role. This affects whether you show a good result or finish walking.
First 8–10 km of a marathon is not a real run, but more like a warm-up:
✅ It should be very easy for you. You will need all the energy saved in the first 10 km after the 32nd km. This is a perfect start considering the fact that there are still 32–35 km to run.
✅ Everyone will overtake you, and you will never catch up with them. Let them go! Most of them will switch from running to walking in 30–33rd km mark. That’s when you’ll get yours.
Running from 10th to the 21st km of a marathon, is like running in the zone. You run at a steady pace and it seems you can run like that forever. Don’t run faster! Soon it will become clearly harder for you.
After 21 km, you will begin to experience the first signs of real fatigue: heavy legs and slowdown. At this point, try to distract yourself and focus on eating and drinking. Feel free to take whatever is offered to you at the aid stations. It will give you some strength!
The most interesting things will begin after 30th km. It will become very difficult, but the forces saved on the first 10th will give you the chance to continue running.
Those who ran away from you at the beginning, will walk 7–8 min/km at this point. And if you still can run at 5:30 min/km, then you will probably get 15–20 minutes advantage over the last 10 km of marathons!
Generally, these rules are applicable for other distances and other sports — like distance swimming and cycling (TT, triathlon). Keep this in mind to make maximum of your races!