123

Does A Strong Finish Mean Bad Pacing? (Read 845 times)

MrNamtor


DON'T TREAD ON ME

    Recently, I mentioned in an RR that I had sprinted at the end of my 5k last week, to which one of the members of my user group said it meant I hadn't run the race at the right pace, and that if i had, I'd have had no gas to sprint at the end

     

    I have heard this said a few times by people whose opinion i respect, including the person who said this on my RR, Nobby, and others.

     

    My question is, is this true? Or is it possible to have sprinting ability even when under the aerobic stress of having just run a 5k race (hard and correct)?

      I suppose that under perfect circumstances you would run the same pace for the whole 5K at a pace that would have you drop right after the finish line.

       

      Two things to note on this though.  Let's take the elites in the Olympics running the 5,000 - they always pick it up for the last couple laps.  Granted, those races are not always about going your fastest, they can be about winning instead.  But even wtih that, world record times are recorded and I'm pretty sure that winner was sprinting at the end.

       

      Second, i once heard a quote that I believe is true - "You can do anything for one minute."  So before every race, I jog from the finish line along the course backwards for one minute.  I note that spot, and that is the spot that I pick up the pace at and push it to the finish line.  Now, this is a 1 minute jog, so at race pace it's probably not quite a minute, but it is a distance that I know I can pick up the pace for and hold till I get to the finish.

       

      All that being said, I guess it also depends on how much you had left for the sprint at the end.  Because when I start my 1 minute sprint, I am pretty toasted at that point and it's really a mental struggle to get myself to pick up the pace, but I do it anyway.  If you had a ton left, then yes, maybe you werent running quite hard enough.

      jmctav23


      2/3rds training

        I read that RR and I think those comments were made simply because you said you had started to kick too early (more than once) and had to back off.  I'm inexperienced with racing but in my 10k, which finished with almost a mile of uphill into the wind, I was able to muster what felt like the most contorted, awkward sprint ever in the last 50 feet because there was a guy who appeared to be in my age group that I was closing in on.  I don't think I would have done it if he hadn't been there because I had already picked the effort to hold pace up the last hill and I was pretty whipped, but "dig deep" and there is always something more to give.  I've read studies (a while ago, can't recall the source or specifics) about trying to pinpoint athletes capacity to go to max effort or to exhaustion, and it is usually a mental shut down, rather than reaching a physical limit.

          Sprinting is anaerobic - no matter how much aerobic running I've just done (up to a point) I can always muster up some anaerobic sprint energy and kick to the finish of a race, unless I'm having a really bad day. I don't think I've ever set a PR without a sprint finish, even in a half marathon. Does it mean bad pacing? Not in my opinion, since I've run all my best races that way. Some runners apparently don't have a kick at the end of a race, I guess? But I don't know what that's like.

          JimR


            At the end of my races it's usually a matter of hanging on.  I can dig up some extra pace over a maybe the last 30, 40 or so meters but I wouldn't call it a sprint, it's more of dumping whatevers left in my legs knowing recovery is a few feet away.  There will always almost certainly be something left at the end, it shouldn't be a lot and it shouldn't last long.

             

            Strategic racing would be a different animal, very few times in recreational racing would one be racing stategically.


            Feeling the growl again

              Recently, I mentioned in an RR that I had sprinted at the end of my 5k last week, to which one of the members of my user group said it meant I hadn't run the race at the right pace, and that if i had, I'd have had no gas to sprint at the end

               

              I have heard this said a few times by people whose opinion i respect, including the person who said this on my RR, Nobby, and others.

               

              My question is, is this true? Or is it possible to have sprinting ability even when under the aerobic stress of having just run a 5k race (hard and correct)?

               

              Your muscles have multiple energy systems that are all used to varying degrees (it is never all one or the other) based on how high the demand for energy is...ie how hard you are running.  Aerobic is most efficient so it will be favored.  Next comes a limited capability for inefficient anaerobic metabolism.  Next come creatinine (think those last couple hard-fought reps in the weight room burning) which can be quickly converted to ATP to provide a short but quick burst of energy...and finally your free ATP pool, which is tiny and almost not worth considering as more than a currency to turn the other forms into muscle output.

               

              You can't deplete your anaerobic and creatinine capacity earlier in the race; you would immediately slow down.  You can't run those dry and keep going, dipping deeply into them means slowdown is imminent.

               

              I guess if you were absolutely perfect, you could time it so you use these resources to hold a constant pace right at the end of a race but it is highly unlikely that you would get this just right.  It is much more likely that even if you run a great race, you will arrive in the closing yards with some of your anaerobic or certainly creatinine stores intact to drive a sprint.

               

              So that is a long way of saying no, being able to sprint at the end does NOT mean bad pacing.  Watch any world record track race over the 5K/10Ks, and they've got a good kick at the end.

               

              Now if you can run the last half mile at mile PR pace you have a pacing problem.

              "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

               

                I agree with Jeff Donahue above and pretty much feel that you can use all your "b-type" muscle fibers and get max effort in a race, but still have some reserve in those "a-type" muscle fibers, which allow for that final sprint at the end of the race.  Trying to simplify in a few sentences, but I think most runners run that really strong pace on the edge, then still have a burst at the finish.  And I am thinking of Marathon runners in the Olympics for example who knock out a really fast final mile coming into the finish and get a WR or OR doing so.

                .

                The Plan '15 edition (big parts)→  /// April '15:  Hampton, VA 24 Hour Run for Cancer  (Goal: >80.1+Miles)  ///   Run streak, at least a mile every single day for 365.  ∞

                  This is probably overkill as an answer to the question, but the guys at science of sport have some interesting (and controversial) things to say about pacing strategy and physiology. They are Noakes' graduate students and subscribe to the Central model of fatigue, which I know that many smart people still have serious questions about. Still, it's interesting stuff.

                   

                  Part 1

                  Part 2


                  Muddling through

                    Lack of any kick at the end is usually a sign of poor pacing and running too fast too early in the race. As spaniel said, there are multiple energy systems. There should be something left in one of the anaerobic ones for at least a short kick.

                    2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race

                      I'll say one more thing in regard to the OP, prompted by JimR's comment there, which is that kicking is a practice that can be improved upon. My kick is horrible now because as Jim notes, there is rarely good reason to kick in recreational races. But in high school and college racing, where you are finishing in packs of runners and every point counts, the kick is really important -- and so you have a better kick because you use it in every race.

                       

                      I'd say that unless you have that kind of college or high school background, unleashing a big kick probably means you did a pretty poor job of pacing, since it's unlikely that you've practiced it, and it's pretty hard to access without that practice.

                      meaghansketch


                        I think you have to look at that person's comment in the context of your whole RR.  A couple people commented that it never seemed (from your description of the race) like you were running at your limit, right up until the sprint at the end.  For me, I always feel in the last 100-200m of a race like I have nothing more left to give, though my arms and legs are somehow still moving (and often I am able to have a half decent kick, I just don't know how it's happening).  I agree that having a kick doesn't necessarily mean bad pacing, although it can mean that you didn't put forth as much effort as you could have the first 90% of the race.

                        Up next: Front Runners New York LGBT Pride 5-mile  06/28 |  NYRR Team Championships: Women (5M) 08/02

                        Goal race: NYCRUNS Haunted Island 10K 10/25

                        xor


                          And for the new runner, know what "sprint" and "kick" really mean.  It is what you do at the very very end.  This is probably self-evident in a 5k, per the OP, but lots of people start picking it up a half mile out in a half (or longer).  Not a sprint.

                           

                          Edit: and yes, it is in context of the whole race.  If it seems like you are holding back in a 5k so you can sprint at the end... well, read that science-of-sport stuff AND pay heed to spaniel.  Different energy systems and all that...

                           

                          JimR


                            Yeah, for best time, don't execute for a sprint finish.  I mean unless passing people is what you like to do.


                            Feeling the growl again

                              This is probably overkill as an answer to the question, but the guys at science of sport have some interesting (and controversial) things to say about pacing strategy and physiology. They are Noakes' graduate students and subscribe to the Central model of fatigue, which I know that many smart people still have serious questions about. Still, it's interesting stuff.

                               

                              Part 1

                              Part 2

                               

                               

                              Certainly, what produces pacing observed during a race is a complex process with a lot of drivers.  The shared links do a better job of acknowledging this than Noakes himself ever has....in fact, he has repeatedly called the "endspurt" definitive proof of the Central Governor, when as I shared there is significant metabolic rationale for it not requiring any conjuring of an unproven structure in the brain.

                               

                              Really, it's a bunch of academic blah blah of little practical value in the end.  It doesn't change the fact that being able to drive hard the last  few hundred yards of a 5K does not mean bad pacing.

                              "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                               


                              A Saucy Wench

                                And for the new runner, know what "sprint" and "kick" really mean.  It is what you do at the very very end.  This is probably self-evident in a 5k, per the OP, but lots of people start picking it up a half mile out in a half (or longer).  Not a sprint.

                                 

                                Yes.  It really feels like a whole different energy system too.

                                I have become Death, the destroyer of electronic gadgets

                                 

                                "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - dd, age 7

                                123