Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Art Of Starting TOOOOO Slow????

Take a look at this ... and I would REALLY appreciate your feedback today.

I'm a firm believer in slow starts in long races.  And unlike a 5K which is basically a controlled sprint, successful longer races for me like full and half marathons require a slow 3-5 mile warm-up before easing into my race pace.  But I think this weekend at the Little Rock Half-Marathon I might have exaggerated this point a little too much. 

Below are the results from the top 10 finishers in the 40-44 age group.  I finished 8th.  But look at the 10K split times and the "RANK", or what "place" we were in at the 10K (6.2 miles) mark.  Almost all of the top 10 finishers were pretty much where they would finish overall in the age group by this point ... except for me!  I was lagging behind in 13th place at 6.2 miles into the race.

Now in some ways this is kinda cool in that I passed 5 people in my age group in the last 7 miles, and ran a huge negative split.  But I can't help but wonder if I conditioned my body to start a little faster if I would take minutes off of my finishing time, and thus move up the ladder in the finishing order.

So here are a few questions ...
How many miles do you run at the beginning of a half-marathon as "warm-up" miles before settling into your race pace?

Do you warm-up before the race starts - like running a couple of miles to get loose?

Did you ever feel like starting too slow has kept you from a PR or running your best?
... be great today!


  1. How many miles do you run at the beginning of a half-marathon as "warm-up" miles before settling into your race pace?

    It takes me 3 miles to settle into "race" pace

    Do you warm-up before the race starts - like running a couple of miles to get loose?

    I dont really run before to get loose. I do some dynamic stretches and strides.

    Did you ever feel like starting too slow has kept you from a PR or running your best?

    I dont have an answer for this one. I am just a hacker of a runner.

    This is an interesting topic that you have brought up. I will be interested to see what the others say and what approach you take in the future. Thanks for the brain fodder.

  2. I'm too slow to really comment on this and run ultras as well where you can't start too slow. I take 35mins to get into my stride and never do any warm up. I believe you ran the most correct race of the top 10.

  3. i usually find that if i DONT warm up with at least a mile or 2 and DONT do striders and sprints before go time, then i feel it takes me longer to find my stride and race pace in a race,and then i feel i have to play "catch up" towards the final miles.

    while some ppl train to get in race pace mode quickly in a race (ie negative splits after a certain mile marker) i think its OK to race how you have been,as long as your body feels comfortable (as in terms only runners can understand)and efficient.

    however,it never hurts to try new things when trying to shave some time off to capture a PR!

    use training runs as mock trials for races and then pick a race to try your new technique....
    you never know what will happen until you try!
    keep us posted!!

  4. I can't wait to read other peoples answers. As with most things I do when it comes to running. . . . my ideas/what I do . . . well you'd NEVER see them labeled as "recommended". ;)

  5. Hahah....laughing at Emz :).

    For me, it depends on how well trained I am for that event. If I am in top shape to run a half marathon, then I will try to even pace the thing for the first 10-11 miles and then try to pick it up a bit at the end. If I'm not well-trained, then I start out much slower. For a marathon, again, if well-trained and I have a target finish time, then I will take the first mile or two about 15 seconds slower than goal pace to let the pack thin out some and then try to get in my groove. If I'm not well-trained, then I just hang on for dear life and do whatever necessary :).

    I normally just do a few strides and dynamic stretching, but if I have room (aka: smaller race), I may run a half mile or so to loosen up, then do a handful of strides.

    Would be interesting in your next half if you changed strategies and see how you do.

  6. I get pissed only when I look back and knew that I could have pushed it more and didn't because yes, I do warm up in a race. My last 10 miler, if it wasn't for mile one would have put me under 1:30. Damn.

  7. Hmmmmmm. How did you feel at the end of the race? Did you feel like you gave it your all, or did you feel like you could have pushed harder? If the latter, then yes you could have started out at a faster pace.

  8. Very very interesting. All of the Elite runners (that for some reason let me train with them...or should I say chase them!) suggest warming up and cooling down before and after a race. It is really not smart to go from zero to race pace so I would highly recommend at least a 2-3 mi warmup for a half marathon. Everyone is so different in the amount of time they need to warmup.

  9. Great topic!

    I don't think I'm fast enough to warrant warming up much before a half marathon or marathon. I'd rather use the first few miles during a race to warmup. For a marathon I might just run maybe 1/4 of a mile as a warmpup, then do some light stretches.

    For a half marathon, maybe I'll do a 1/2 mile warmup.

    But I use the first 2-3 miles as a warmup during the race of a half marathon or marathon.

    I wouldn't say that starting too slow has ever kept me from a good time. If anything I have a history of starting too fast in races, and fading in the 2nd half.

    With your ability level, you may want to speed up a little over the first half of the race, since you had to make up a lot of ground over the last half of the race. I guess you don't want to feel like you are straining to pull back the people who got away from you in the first half of the race. (ie run a somewhat even split race)

  10. I have yet to run a full marathon (shooting for Las Vegas in November!). For all my 5,8, 10 and 21.1K's, I run at least 1 mile to warm up and I do 3-6strides fifteen minutes pre-race (Coach's orders). I try not to go out too fast, but keep it within 5 seconds of my goal time. I always have more energy in the end, if I don't go all out in the beginning. Your race was remarkable - you should be proud of yourself!

  11. this is super interesting to me
    I am curious about what people will say,. I am not one to give advices to super Jim that is for sure...I am working on negative splits for half marathon races..I have yet to do it. For my 2 best half I actually did things backwards...I banked time in the first 10k...and I crashed in the last 5K so I have a lot to learn.

  12. So I have got no real running advice for you as I am not a super speedy type BUT if a running race is broken down anything like a swim race, then.... In swimming, they tell you to break the race into thirds, the first third building pace, the 2nd third, maintaining a normal pace and then the final third should be your fast pace.

  13. I cant help but to start slow when I race. That's why I like to run some warm up laps before the race. Helps get me loosen up.

  14. My best races (and the ones that are my current PRs) were started slower and negative split. So I totally agree with you.

  15. I'm too slow to be considered very knowledgeable about this - but, I do think that negative splits are the way to go. I try to negative split every run (no matter the distance) and I just find that I'm learning how to find another gear every time I try.

  16. I wondered that about Houston. My average pace for the race was 8:55, but the first mile was 9:34. I *like* to warm up in the race--it makes me feel safer--but I'm with you in that safe may not be best when you're trying to race well.


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