You can’t control the weather, illness and, to a certain extent, injury.
What you can control is your race strategy.
Personally, I never go into a race without a plan A or a plan B.
Pre-race visualisation of what stage you’re going to be at what time in the race is really helpful in getting your mind ready for the day and will give you a great chance of achieving your goal.
You should try and calculate your race pace and decide on a positive split (first half quicker) or negative split (second half quicker) in the weeks before, depending on how your training has been progressing.
I’m a big believer in having time in the bank. My most recent marathon times have been around the 3:50 mark when I’ve actually been aiming for anything under a sub four.
I use a negative split of 1:50/2:05, which leaves me five minutes in the bank for a four-hour marathon.
When things are going well, it’s incredibly reassuring and gives me extra motivation toward the end of the race to push myself that little bit harder and do even better than my base goal.
— Stephen rooney (@rooneys_fitness) May 12, 2016
So many things can go wrong so that five minutes is absolute gold and allows me to change things around if need be.
I’m kind of tricking my mind and that feeds into the body, maximising the release of endorphins and increasing the chances of ‘runner’s high’.
On numerous occasions during the latter stages of races, I’ve been known to laugh heartily at things around me that appear completely inconsequential to other runners because I feel so good.
People must think I’m crazy and they would be right.
However, I’m just manipulating the psychological battle so I don't have to fight it in the first place.
In some of my early marathons, I was really struggling in the last eight miles and dark thoughts would set in. I hadn’t planned properly and was using up too much energy in the first half of the race.
From experience, I learned that devising a strategy reduces lost mental energy and increases my positivity. My 1:50/2:05 gives me two clear times to aim for and allows me room for error.
Think about your tactics and you won’t go far wrong.
As always, happy running.
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