I was doing some research for a book and found an interesting study that looked at controlling the pace of the first 1-kilometer of the10-kilometer run in an Olympic distance triathlon. The study was designed to look at run pacing strategy. Scientists held swim and bike speeds constant, relative to a previous test performance. It was only the run pace they manipulated.
The 10 highly trained male triathletes did a randomized individual time trial for each sport, 1.5-km swim, 40-km bike and a 10-km run (control-run) to determine triathlon paces.
The athletes were then asked to complete a triathlon, holding swim and bike speeds constant based on the individual time trial results. The run portion of the triathlon was divided into three different groups, each controlling the first 1-km of the 10-km triathlon run, and then running the remaining 9-km as fast as possible.
The groups were split into:
- Run the first 1-km at a pace 5-percent slower than the control run
- Run the first 1-km at a pace 5-percent faster than the control run
- Run the first 1-km at a pace 10-percent slower than the control run
The athletes that ran the first 1-km at a pace 5-percent slower than their time trial pace and then opened up the remaining 9-km ran the entire 10-km run significantly faster than the other two groups. (33.8 minutes, +/-78 seconds)
The 5-percent faster group – bolting out of transition at a fast clip – ran the 10-km slower than the previous group, at 36.3 minutes, +/- 121 seconds.
Finally, the group that held back to 10-percent slower for the first 1-km still out ran the athletes bolting out of transition. Their times were 34.78 minutes, +/- 88 seconds.
If you want to have a fast 10-km run on the end of that Olympic distance triathlon, here’s more proof that holding back in the beginning of the run gives you a faster time.
Hausswirth C, et al, Pacing strategy during the initialphase of the run in triathlon: influence on overall performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010Apr;108(6):1115-23. Epub 2009 Dec 19.