The NYC half is now just 11 days away. Over the weekend, I ran 6 miles of the half marathon course through Central Park and was reminded that this is not the easiest course. So I’m doubting myself a little bit but hoping to run strong regardless.
For Tuesdays on the run, the topic is how we put together a race strategy, so let’s talk about that today.
1. Study the course map
I always begin by knowing the course well. If I can run it (like I did this weekend) that’s ideal, but if not, races almost always have a map and description of the race course. Many half and full marathons also include an elevation profile so you can get a sense of where the hills are and plan accordingly.
For the NYC half, the first half has the majority of the hills as it looks the outer part of Central park. The second half is much flatter. With this in mind, I know I need to start conservatively and not worry when I see some slower mile splits up those tough hills.
Ideally, the plan is to keep something in the tank and negative split the second half.
2. Assess your training
One of the best ways to assess your fitness is with a shorter tune up race before race day. For the half, a 10k is an ideal distance to get a sense of your abilities. However, there are many other ways to track your progress as I discussed in this article.
I like to compare current training cycles to previous training cycles and look at similar workouts like tempo runs, 2 x 2 mile workouts, or overall weekly mileage. I also tally up how many miles I ran at near goal race pace or faster than goal race pace for a confidence booster.
My current training cycle has been just slightly stronger than my fall cycle, which gives me a good indicator that a half marathon pr is possible.
3. Consider the weather
Unfortunately, even with a perfect training cycle and pr-friendly course, anything can happen on race day. The weather can slow us down if it’s too hot or too cold, so that’s also something to consider. Runner’s Connect has a temperature calculator to give you a sense of how much a given temperature might impact your effort.
4. Stick to the plan!
Once you have a good idea of what your body should be capable of, you want to start there or just slightly slower and ease into the pace. Starting too fast will burn through too much fuel and lactate acid and force you to slow down at the end. Starting too slowly could mean you miss minutes that you can’t make up later. But starting conservatively yet with focus ensures your splits will be as even as possible and gives you a good shot at a negative split.
Based on my training, I know that a 7:02-7:10 pace is doable. With the hills, I’m hoping to average closer to 7:10 for the first half and then finish with an average closer to 7:00 for the second half. But of course, anything can happen!
I have one more tough workout tomorrow, and then it’s time to taper for the next week!
How do you plan out your racing strategy?
Have you had a race experience that was altered by the weather?