Race strategy

I never had a strategy for my races… so this time when I texted my coach I felt like a grown up in the running world. heheh…. We had our second zoom call since I started with him. I must confess, when I got assigned to him, I checked him out and wasn’t sure he’d be a good fit for me. Well… 2 months later, I think he’s good (have no comparison with other coaches) but I feel like he has a good balance of knowing my limits, supportive, flexible, responsive, and gives good suggestions to address my issues. I really like him. Although it was only second time we talked, I felt like we’ve been working together for a while.

In term of “strategy”:

Goals: 9:30 min/mile as A goal, 10min/mile B goal, finish C goal, but most important of all, have fun. If I feel extra good, then I’ll PR. The challenge of training in a tropical country is that it’s hard to tell what would be my race pace when there’s more than 20 degrees difference in temperature (from 30C to 10C).

Strategy to address the pace uncertainty: HR. Most of the times my legs are okay to run faster while having higher HR makes me feel tired faster. Averaging 145 would be ideal, anything below 140 feels cruising. In my last marathon race (2019) my HR averaged 148 with over 160 for the first 3 miles and then gradually decline to 140s. My coach said during the race it’s okay to average 150 given the adrenaline but better to start slow than overdo it. His philosophy is that if I overdo it at the start and have to slowdown, the damage physically and mentally is done. So that would be my strategy, go with HR to pace myself in the beginning. If I feel good after 4-5 miles, I’ll go a bit faster.

Other tips:

  • divide the race in chunks, 5k or 10k. Focus on that segment instead of thinking what’s left.
  • practice running around the same time of the race. The race starts 10am, while I usually run first thing in the morning. So I’ll try to do that when I arrive Germany.
  • 1 gel per 40 min. This is about how much I consume during long run training and the course provides the exact gel I use, so wonderful.
  • assess fluid need. I’m used to drink a lot in Manila, but I might not need to in cooler climate, so again something to try out when I get there.
  • distraction like body scan, remember similar feelings during the training cycle, to help to break the mental barrier when things get hard at the last 10km.
  • expect something goes wrong. I think I’ve learned to deal with surprises already 🙂
  • practice run without music. Fortunately it has been a month since I stopped listening to podcast during run. Now I run either with music or nothing.

I am starting to say goodbye to my beloved running path. This 1.2km path has saved me, especially during the pandemic. I am grateful to have it so close to home, the tranquility it gives me when I run through, the cats along the way especially the zen master, and the fellow runners on the path. This morning a guy asked me, are you going to Berlin? I said, yes, how do you know? Because Strava. Apparently he has been following me since we see each other few times a week. How funny. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Race strategy

  1. I’ve never done any heart rate training, although my old Garmin watch had a heart rate monitor you could wear but I never tried it. I always just sort of figured who cares! Haha. But it is interesting to see how you’ve tracked data and pay attention to that. Sounds like you’ve got a great plan and you are well trained. Now, just go and have a blast! So exciting!!


  2. I think you are going to have a really strong race, especially after training in such brutal temps. But a 10am start is SO ODD!! That would never happen in this part of the country. Even in our colder months, races tend to start by 8 or so. 10 is just so late! So that would kind of throw me as I’m used to running much earlier in the morning and it could be quite warm here by 10am. But even a warm morning in Berlin will be much cooler than what you’ve been training in, and the humidity will likely be very low! I can’t wait to hear how you do! I had a huge PR in my 2nd marathon. I went from 4:50 (my first marathon did not go well) to 4:22! And then to 4:05 and then 4:02. So the biggest time improvements happened in my 2nd and 3rd marathons. I trained on my own for the first 2 and then w/ a coached running group for my last 2, and the coaches made a big difference so I believe that will be the case for you, too!


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