Monday, April 13, 2009

Pace Groups: Pros and Cons?

Lynn and I are debating whether or not I should run with a pace group or not at Eugene. I hear good things about the pace-group leaders at that marathon, but we're still wondering if it's the smart move to go with one or not.

Our main sticking point: On my long runs and tempo runs, I've consistently found that it takes me a while to get warmed up. Early on, I have to really fight to drop down to tempo pace, but after my muscles get lubed, I'm good to go.

Our plan, hashed out over my training run on the course of the Eugene Marathon two weeks ago, was that I start out slower than marathon pace but build up to it by about mile 3. If I ran with a pace group, however, we don't think I'd have that option.

One running buddy told me she thinks adrenaline will carry me through the first few miles, but I'm concerned about going out too fast. As LJ said to me on the Eugene run, "I want to see you going sub-MP at miles 17 and 18, not miles 2 and 3."

So, dear running-readers, I'm looking for insight about experiences you've had with marathon pace groups. I'd love to hear from you--thanks!



Anonymous said...

First of all I just want to thank you for your blog. I just found you and you are giving me some much needed motivation.
Second, don't worry about getting lost in Eugene it's easy to do. Directions in that town make no sense to me, but I am going to have to hurry and get use to it when I move there in June.
Third, I am not a marathon pro, but won't you be doing a good warm up before the race even begins? I just wonder if you warmed up really well before the race if you could then run with the pace group and have others right beside you to help you along. I wish I would have tried the pace group when I ran Salt Lake's marathon. I really think I could have kept up with the 3:45 group but instead I got a 3:52. Wish you the best of luck.
your new follower!

Kate said...

I have run with Clif pace team twice. One definite con is the most sought after finish times translate into a monolithic blob on the course; which can lead to other runners angry glares/comments.

Why couldn't you line up with or near the slower pace group that reflects the pace you want for the first 3-4 miles and then break from the pack? The nice thing about pace groups is you aren't married to them.

Jill said...

Hi SBS...
I could write a novel on the one and only time I used a pace group. I am in the same situation as you only more that I NEED to slow down in the beginning so I don't die at the end (been there one too many times). What I did in St. George was to go my own pace for awhile until I felt comfortable. Mile 10ish, I let the 3:50 pace group catch me. I ran with them until about mile 20 and then I felt so good that I took off from them and never looked back (finished in 3:46). I found the leader to be great; he didn't get too wordy with stories I didn't care about but offered bit of advice and encouragement along the way when a hill approached, etc. The best words he said was when we hit mile 20 and said all we had left was a 10K and how we've all done 10k's before; I found this to be so inspiring and felt I could push past the group. The group was small when I ran with them after mile 8, many had left and many more left in the 10 mile I ran with them, but I found them to be so supportive during some of the hardest parts. My advice, no matter what: START SLOW!!!!!!!! I have killed more marathons by going too fast and suffering so badly at the end I had to walk. Maybe start with a slower pace group for the first few miles and then take off if you feel good and find the next pace group - slowly. I'd be glad to talk to you more about it if you wanted!!

Susan Kokesh said...

Going out too fast those first 3 miles always bites you in the behind late in the race. You need to run YOUR race. Replicate your training runs. And if that means a slower warmup, and then ramping up the pace later, then stick to what your awesome coach LJ has had working for you in training. And don't eat or drink anything new the day B4 the race, or on race day. Tried and true (and practiced) is the way to go. You are going to do great!

fisher cat said...

I"ve never run with a pace group but my first thought was Kate's - can you run with the slower pace group to start, to keep from going out too fast (my problem too!), then run forward & catch the next group by the time you might benefit from them? Have not heard of people doing this before but curious if anyone has tried it. said...

Hey, Sarah! I attempted to use a pace group for Mardi Gras Marathon in Feb - I also had my Garmin 305 on, thank GOD!!! The pacer started out at 7:39-7:50 for the first 3 miles & then I backed off because I definitely wanted to finish - he was supposed to be running about 8:50'ish...I know that fast start hurt me in the end. My thinking at the time was, maybe the dude just wanted to get us moving and then settle down to a better pace, but I could not keep up & knew I'd hurt myself if I tried! I wanted 4:00, but it didn't happen. I don't know if I'll use a pacer again; if I were in your shoes with your phenomenal build-up, I'd run my race without a group & know I did all the preliminary work. What a great feeling knowing you've done the work! Your bank account is full & you can make your withdrawal on May 3! :)

Anonymous said...

Some races I've been on allow a pacer to join you somewhere along the course instead of at the beginning. You could ask about that.