I am presently training for a marathon in January. I've completed my first marathon this past June in 4:52 and I'm working hard to get the next one under 4:30. I am running a 10K race on 9/14 as an effort to measure my current fitness level and apply my time to the various tables in Daniels' Running Formula. I will be no where near winning even my age group, but I am looking for tips to put together an optimal race strategy so I can feel confident my time is an accurate reflection of my fitness level and not skewed by running a lousy race. Any advice about starting pace, when to pick up the pace, etc. would be great! Thanks.
From a mid-pack 10K runner who sometimes even places in her age group...
1. Know the pace you want to run, and do your best to stick with it. Don't start out too fast, especially if there are a 5K and 10K starting together (which is common). Also a lot of runners get all wired up at the start and then sprint when the gun goes off. Don't worry, you will pass a large number of them in the first mile or so when they get tired.
2. Know the race course before you start, especially if it has a lot of hills, or if it has any off-road stretches (trails, dirt roads, etc.).
3. Maintain a constant effort going up and down hills. Don't sprint up hills as if they were interval training.
4. Run your own race. Don't chase the competition (unless you are really good).
5. Some experts recommend negative splits (running the second half of the race a bit faster than the first half).
Thanks for the help. I couldn't find any information about the course ahead of time, so there were a couple of hills that caught me off guard. I held myself to a 26 minute 5K split and finished in 51:13... 4 seconds over my goal.
I don't have the Daniels book handy, but the online McMillan running calculator is also a good predictor, and it takes into account faster paces over shorter distances. The McMillan calculator predicts that a 51:13 10K (8:14/mile) would yield a 4:00:21 marathon (9:11/mile). If your goal is to finish under 4:30, you should make it easily.