I wish I was a little bit taller, not really, just faster.
March 18, 2019 9:37 PM   Subscribe

I am competing in a 10k this Sunday. Due to my wave assignment, my average pace leaves little margin to finish. Tips and tricks for gaining a tiny bit of speed this week?

I am not a fast runner, I don't care, no one cares, except in Japan where most races have pretty strict cut offs at different intervals throughout the race. I know its not a huge deal if I miss a cut off and I know where all the subway stations are in the area, but I would really like to finish!

I ran a very hilly 10.k this past weekend and finished with about two minutes wiggle room. I'm not comfortable cutting it so close! I'm afraid I'm going to get stuck in the back of my wave and that little wiggle room is going to disappear or I'm going to get my weird "I HAVE TO PEE" as soon as I start running and my wiggle room is going to disappear.

I have never really thought about strategic ways to gain a little speed but I see two major options. 1. Increase my turnover time a bit overall or 2. Eat or hydrate somehow to help me be able to access more energy the last two miles.

My "usual" runs are 3-4 miles and my time tends to increase dramatically when I run more than 5 miles. Even when I train (like for the 15k I did) I can't seem to get past that wall when I run out of sugar (or whatever is happening there.)

Is there any hope or should I just put on some faster music and hope the herd and adrenaline propel me?
posted by stormygrey to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not exactly an answer to your question, but: in general, efficient training has you running significantly slower during race-length practice runs than you do during the race itself. This is due to the effect of race-day energy/motivation, as well as the very significant advantage of tapering - you should definitely be able to beat your training pace, especially if you recently did a training run with more hills than the race itself. Two minutes is also fairly significant for a 10k - it'd be a pretty bad day where you'd run two minutes slower on race day than you did on a hilly training run.

That said, your tapering will matter a lot. Make sure you run easy two days before the race and perhaps rest the following two days (or just follow your plan). Remember that the most important thing is getting a good night's sleep two nights before you race - the night before you'll be nervous and may not sleep much, but it's the night before that which really matters. As far as incorporating energy gels or whatever, I wouldn't do anything new that you haven't tried out in training, more likely to backfire than to help.

Do they have pacers in this race? They can be super helpful to make sure you don't start off too strong and lose energy halfway through.
posted by exutima at 10:03 PM on March 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

I overheat easily when running so if you're the same, then wearing say a vest instead of a tee may help a little. Also, if the cut offs aren't based on chip time then arrive early and fight to the front of your wave!
Eat something small but carby a few hours before. Avoid having a full bladder!
Keep warm before hand, jump around a little to keep muscles ready.
I think you'll be fine though - keep pace with others around you, ignore the pain and the race environment should pull you through. Good luck!
posted by JonB at 12:04 AM on March 19, 2019

So, first of all, 2 minutes to spare doesn't seem like a lot, but in a 10k, 2 minutes is a lot of time. Also, as exutima said, your race pace will probably be quite a bit faster than your workout pace.

If you think about how much time you would like to have to spare, then calculate the pace you would have to run to be at that time you can decide if it is possible or desirable to run at that speed. As far as I know, most races (not familiar with Japan) have a 90 minute cap on 10km races. So let's say you are running 88 minutes for the 10k. Thats 8:48/km. If you wanted to get down to an 85 minute 10k, that would be 8:30/km. I'm not sure about you, but for me to drop 18s/km in just a couple days would be impossible.

My advice is to not let it get into your head. The last thing you want to do is push yourself too hard in the beginning, hit the wall at the halfway point, and end up significantly slower than you would if you just stuck to your plan. So, just stick to your plan, 2 minutes is plenty, run your race and have a great time!
posted by Literaryhero at 12:39 AM on March 19, 2019

I've heard rumours that some runners avoid pee stops by just- peeing. runner's pee. Not sure if this is a realistic option?
posted by freethefeet at 1:03 AM on March 19, 2019

I don't think you're going to get faster in the last week before your run. I'm with exutima that the best thing you could do now is taper and take it easy, and don't add gels if you haven't used them before. I'm assuming there are aid stations? Water, and Powerade or any other energy drink they offer, would be my option. Plus (if it was me) I'd eat a moderate meal about two hours before the race started - but your exact need may vary.

my time tends to increase dramatically when I run more than 5 miles

I wonder, are you going out too hard? Maybe try starting slower - work out your target pace and don't overdo it early. It's more effective to run a steady pace the whole way than to go fast and then have to slow down.
posted by Pink Frost at 2:37 AM on March 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

The last marathon I took on, I tried a carb deplete / carb load process in the week before. I'm convinced it kept my legs stronger for the last six miles (when everyone else was tiring, I was able to pick up my pace) but for a 10K, I don't think it would make enough of a difference.
posted by humuhumu at 2:43 AM on March 19, 2019

Everybody in your wave is dealing with the same situation, yes? If so, getting stuck in the back of your wave isn't likely to be an issue.
posted by inexorably_forward at 4:23 AM on March 19, 2019

At this point, it's entirely mental. You can run faster. (Did you collapse and die after your last race? No? OK, you could have run faster.) You simply have to ignore the signals from your body that tell your brain you can't. Obviously, easier said than done. More details here in a review of Endure, which is a fascinating book about the science of human performance.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:09 AM on March 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

exutima has it for the training - run slower. And run longer.

Unless you're running over 90 minutes, or running in weather that has you drenched in sweat before you start, your slowdowns at the end aren't nutrition/carb/electrolyte related. They're stamina related. Which, running longer and slower more often, will help. However, there's nothing related to stamina boosting that will have any effect with a week to go.

I also have that "gotta pee" thing as soon as races start. For 5k's and 10k's, my method is to ignore the standard advice of keeping up hydration up to the hour before the race, and instead I'll stop drinking about 2 hours before the race - and I'll be sure to take a salt pill either 30 minutes before my last drink, or with my last drink. However the day before I will be sure that I'm not dehydrated.

Studies have noted an effect of tasting carbs/sugar (I.E. they had participants spit out the beverage, and they still saw a brief pick me up), so if there is an option of sports drink vs. water, definitely opt for the sports drink. While an energy gel isn't needed for such a short run, since you experience tiredness/pace decay beyond six miles and you're running 6.2, I'd suggest taking an energy gel around 4.3 miles. Or half of one at 4 and the other half at 5 or 5.5 .
posted by nobeagle at 6:43 AM on March 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

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