To practice pacing or to suicide-pace and drop, that’s the question

I am a bit addicted to a few blogs so my Google Reader and Pocket apps are pretty much all I pay attention the 12 minutes I have in the train. I have a few blogs I always read, no matter how old they are, and I have them all saved up there for when I have time to catch up. One of them is Reid Coolsaet’s (olympic marathoner from Canada!) and he posted something over a month ago that stuck with me for a while, so I had to share it or it’s going to kill me.

He had gone training to Kenya and was talking about their training pace strategy:

… “I know I’ve written about this phenomenon before but it still blows my mind that Kenyans stay with the leaders as long as they can only to drop out…- The mentality is to stay with the lead group as long as possible and hope that next week they can stay up there longer. As opposed to completing the full workout and hopefully later on they can complete it faster.”

Instead of going out at a hard pace they can sustain, they all run with the big boys for as long as they can; then they drop. CRAZY.

Now you see why this stuck with me right? It’s completely the opposite of what most of us do!!!!

In the physiological side of matters, it makes complete sense. Go for quality first (speed), then you add quantity (endurance) after. But then there is the race day issue: how do you know what pace you can actually sustain? how fast do you go out? You’re  really (all) out on a limb (or two).

If I was a Kenyan looking for a paycheck, and then if I am not placing it’d be better to save the legs and drop, it would definitely make sense to race (and train) like that. But for me, all I have to do is finish a race as fast as possible, hopefully faster than last time. Key word: finish. Not: drop out if my pace is not winning PR pace.

BUT I still think this kamikaze way of pacing in training workouts is a very interesting notion we can gain something from. I’ve done some tempos where I negotiated with myself how far I’d keep going, based on feel, mostly because I always want to quit it, so it’s similar in a way though really the opposite because I am wimp with speedwork. But I’ve never gone out at suicidal pace, to just die out there in a tempo or something.

Thoughts? Will you try it out too and report back?

11 thoughts on “To practice pacing or to suicide-pace and drop, that’s the question

  1. I once read that –

    Most people run their slow runs too fast and their fast runs too slow. Easy should be easy and hard should be hard.

    I like to think about that on my runs. I don’t know what it could really mean, but to me it helps with my workouts.


  2. All I know is blowing up during a race is embarrassing. It’s best to build a base with easy runs and do speed workouts once a week based on your fitness level, improving from there.


  3. Pingback: such an unexpected run today… | runningandthecity

  4. I think one thing that is important to remember is that at many of these large Kenyan training camps (and even some D1 American Colleges) they have a meat grinder philosophy. Take 40 guys and run them all into the ground, you get 5 or 6 that come out the other side in great shape and the rest don’t matter. It is a great way to train if you happen to be one of the lucky few who can survive the brutal training if you don’t you end up injuried, burnt out, or just sick of trying and failing.

    Probably not the best way to train and or race for most of us who aren’t trying to use this as a way to make a living.


  5. Pingback: 2013. A LOT of stuff. Amazing Year! | runningandthecity

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