Monday, February 1, 2016

Dial In the Early Run Miles

by Dave Latourette

We often train it on a weekly basis, and maybe even multiple times during a week, but do we really get it right in training? If we don’t get it right in training, will it magically happen on race day? I’m talking about transition runs and using key training days to work on the skill of pacing the opening few miles of the run during your race correctly.

We hear most people talk about it: “Be patient the first 3, or 6, or 8, miles of the run.” As athletes you’ve probably told others that’s your plan. Then, in reflecting after the race you find that you ran that first segment faster than goal pace, as opposed to slower than goal pace, mainly because “I felt good” and “that pace felt so easy.” If this describes you or if you simply need to keep training yourself to get the opening miles of the run of your long distance race done correctly, try some or all of the following tricks in training and racing.

  • Use your Garmin or an accurately measured course to be sure you know what running slower than goal pace off the bike feels like (and when I say “goal pace” I mean an honest goal pace).

  • If you struggle running slower than goal pace in the opening miles on race day use the aid stations in those miles to walk and get extra aid and fluids. Doing so will ensure your heart rate stays lower and forces the opening miles to be slower.

  • If you feel like you really have the controlled opening miles sorted out in training but can’t seem to nail it in the race try the next scenario in training. Remember, when you get off the bike on race day, there are people around cheering, you are excited, you are full of adrenalin, so what feels like a 9-minute mile might actually be 8:30. To train the appropriate response, try the following:
    1. Have your run gear set up like normal for your transition run.
    2. Have an iPod or whatever you use for music set up ready to go. The music player should have three to six miles worth of your favorite tunes that amp you up like crazy.
    3. From the time you head out the door, use the high adrenalin music.
    4. The challenge here is running relaxed and controlled even though the music is making you want to fly down the road. If you can get yourself under control in this situation and continue to be able to do so you’ll be in better shape to deal with the extra energy on race day!

It isn’t just enough to say you are going to do it on race day. Create scenarios in training and use previous race experiences to make sure you get it right. Three miles conservative in the run of a 70.3 distance and six miles conservative early on in the run of a 140.6 mile distance race can be the difference between happiness and disappointment at the finish. Get it right in training then push play on race day!

Good luck at the races!

Dave Latourette is a full time triathlon coach living in Santa Rosa, California, who works with athletes from newcomer to elite. His top athletes have won USAT Age Group National Championships and raced in World Championship events that include the ITU World Championship and the Ironman World Championship. You can learn more about Dave and follow him at:, his blog, or on twitter @dklatourette
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