You have decided you want to improve your speed and want to follow a protocol to get you there. You know that pace you need to run, but how do you make his happen on race day? You have trained for 3-4 month to achieve this pace and want the record time. Here is some advice to take with you to the starting line.
Given the advancement in technology, many runner are using Garmin GPS watches to maintain a desired pace. While some may take this strategy to race day, here is a reason not to rely in your Garmin. And it’s not due to accuracy!
For starters, a race course is measured the shorted possible distance to achieve he mileage that is being raced. For example, if you are running a half marathon, the course would be designed such that it would be impossible to run under 13.1 miles. The term tangents is frequently discussed referring to the shortest distance to get from start to finish. Following the shortest tangents would involve staying on the inside of each turn and not zig zagging around runners or crossing from one side of the road to the other. So If you want more then one cup of water, getting 2 from the same station would actually save time by cutting the distance down from not traveling to the opposite side of the road to hit the other station.
So if you are following your pace on the Garmin, it most likely is extremely accurate, but your distance could be off if your not following the shortest tangents. As an example. If your goal is to get under 1:50 for a half marathon, and you thought that by running an 8:10 pace you would finish around 1:47. This could be risky because if you run longer the the planned 13.1 miles you could miss your time. Rather then follow your pace, you should follow your time according to each mile marker. For example, to run a 1:48 half marathon, you would need to be at 8:14 for mile one, 16:29 for mile two and so on all the way to the finish. If you reach the respective mile marker and find you are behind, gradually picking up your pace will allow you to recover the time. Remember not to sprint as this can create fatigue causing you to slow down later in the race. Creating a wrist band to wear the day of the race can help you remember the times you need to hit for each mile as opposed to trying to remember them. Here is a link that allows you to create a wristband to print out to wear the day of race that is customizable for whatever distance you are running – http://www.marathonguide.com/fitnesscalcs/PaceBandCreator.cfm.
Good luck racing!!