Race Pace and Hydration Strategy

Marathoning by Bill Rodgers.jpg

Sunday April 7 is almost here in St. Louis. The weather, at least as of today, calls for 55-75, rain and humidity of 76%. You need to go into Sunday with a plan for your pacing and hydration.
So, take the advice from the master. In 1974 Bill Rodgers ran his 3rd Boston Marathon where he finished 14th but he really struggled from 18 onward. He was still learning how to marathon. Many don’t realize it took him a few years to figure it out and once he did, well the rest is marathon history.

It was warm day in April 1974. To quote him: “I didn’t drink any water at all until after the 10-mile mark. I learned the hard way it’s very important to take water before you start the race and in the first miles of the marathon. If you don’t take any in the first 5-6 miles you will dehydrate. I found that that taking water every few miles are essential for warm weather half or full marathons”.

So, make sure on Saturday you are taking in water mixed with electrolytes and salt such a Nuun or Ucan mix. Use common sense and don’t overdo it. On race morning take more water, but not to the point of being uncomfortable. Then during the first few miles take it in at each opportunity. Trust your thirst, if you feel it drink it. During the second half of the race it is a good idea to take in water with electrolytes so you get more salt. It sounds like common sense, but in the chaos and excitement of the first few miles its easy to forget to hydrate.

On pacing Bill said “To me the first few miles are the most critical of a marathon. Some people say the race doesn’t start until 20. The real truth is that the first few miles are the most important ones. Many make the mistake of going out too hard or not taking enough water are the ones who are not going to do their best or perhaps even finish”.

You need to have a pacing strategy that takes into consideration the weather, course and your target time based on your training. Just because it’s warm, don’t abandon your target. Just manage your pace well. It’s well known amongst experienced marathoners that if you think you can “bank” seconds or minutes in the first half, it will come back to haunt you many times over in the back half. I have a friend who has run a 2:14 marathon. He’s tried it both ways and the 10 seconds per mile under his target pace in the first few miles cost him several minutes over pace in the last few miles. I’ve learned after 5 marathons that running even or negative splits sets one up for the best outcome, if you have completed your training plan faithfully. When I ran my 2:21 my goal was 5:25 per mile. I ran the first 10 at 5:30 per mile and ran slightly negative for the second 13.1, trusted in my Lydiard training and finished strong. I didn’t use it all up in the first 13.1. So be smart, trust in the hard-long training you have completed, create your race plan and stick to it! Good luck and would enjoy hearing from you about how your race went.

If you would like to learn more about the Lydiard Method, stop by the store as we enjoy talking about training, particularly yours! We’ll be happy to take you through the concepts for each phase for your next training cycle.

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
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