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Surrey Marathon Week: Race Day Strategy

Posted Sep 24 2013 11:55am
So far in running my race day strategy has always been pretty simple

I'm not a huge race day strategist although I have been known to have a plan for a couple key races. Typically when it comes to my longest races though, my number one goal is to finish it upright and happy. I feel such a huge sense of accomplishment from the simple act of finishing.

Now don't get me wrong, finishing with a good time feels pretty darn good too. However, I'm pretty new to this whole marathon thing and feel like I'm still at the stage where each marathon is more a learning experience than a speed experience. I feel like I'm still learning how to run marathons and therefore that whole "complete not compete" thing is pretty big for me.

Surrey Marathon will be my third full marathon (fourth if you include my Run for Water ultra marathon) and it's coming up in a mere 5 days! Yikes! At the beginning of the summer I flirted with a bit of a time goal I thought I might be able to achieve but as the summer progressed and a few health issues threw themselves into the mix, I knew that wouldn't be possible. For most of my summer I trained with my "happy at the finish line" goal in mind.

So now that it's here, what am I aiming for on Sunday in terms of goals and strategy? It remains pretty simple...

Consistent Pace:

At my last marathon (BMO Vancouver) I ran way too fast for the first half then felt like I was running out of gas for the last half. I looked at the numbers and if I'd just run an even pace somewhere in the middle I'd have finished 10-15 mins faster. Keeping a steady pace is my most important goal on Sunday.

Stay Relaxed:

Seems pretty simple but I find that over 42km my back and shoulders can get pretty tired and hunchy if I'm not remembering to hold my posture. The beauty of taking walk breaks is the chance to rest and reset these kinds of things so I want to be super mindful of this Sunday.

Eat & Drink Regularly:

I'm pretty good for this but sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the excitement on race day and forget to eat. What I eat has changed a lot this year and I want to make sure I'm getting the most of my favourite fuel and electrolyte drinks.

Use the Hills:

I am no uphill specialist that's for sure but I do plan to use the downhills where I can. Surrey isn't hugely hilly but there are some ups and downs along the course and I like to let go a bit on the downs. The faster pace and longer stride feels good stretching-wise and I may as well go faster when I can do it with minimal effort, right?

Scope out the Course:

The full marathon course at Surrey is a double loop of the half marathon course. I've only run double loops in shorter races and I'll admit, crossing that finish point and heading out for a second pass can feel a bit deflating. It's a very clear reminder that you're only halfway there. So, my plan is to scope things out on my first pass and find some spots I really enjoy so I can look forward to them the second time around.

Have Fun:

I like running, I spend a lot of time training for each race, it would be a shame to to not enjoy the end result of all that work. I feel like a million bucks on race days and just love seeing everyone cheering on the sidelines even when they're not there specifically for me. Surrey had such great crowd support last year and on Sunday I want to make sure I enjoy the whole experience.

Time Goals:

Despite my contentment to finish with a smile on my face, I'd be lying if I didn't have some ideas of how long I think it will take me. Although I don't aim to compete with other runners I do like to see improvement over my past times. My first marathon was 6:18 and my second was 4:59 - I'd love it if I could beat that last time and I think that's doable.

So, like a good little runner I have three goal ranges in mind
  • C Goal: Sub 4:59:36
  • B Goal: 4:45-4:59
  • A Goal: 4:30-4:45 (yeah right!)
Above all: Finish upright and happy!

I think the C Goal (or at least around the C Goal) is totally attainable and the B Goal perhaps if all things fall into line and I find I'm having a really good strong day. The A Goal, well, it's just fun to throw a "pie in the sky" goal in there - it's really more like my career goal. Someday I'd love to run a 4:30 marathon so I like to keep that there to remind me of where I'm headed long term.

Are you a race day strategist? What's your plan/goal/strategy for Surrey?
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