It has been over 13 years since I last ran a 10K race. It hasn’t been intentional, but I just don’t see many 10K racing opportunities where I live. In a little over a week, I’ll be racing this distance in Tokyo and have been putting a lot of thought on my race strategy. I’m pretty excited about this upcoming race since I feel I’m in the best condition since I started running and have no doubt whatsoever that I’m going to blow away my previous PR of 44:20 set back in 1998 when I was 26 years old.
This race is going to be a little different than previous races I have run, in that, I plan to run with someone of equal ability – or maybe even a little faster than me. I feel that we’ll be able to work off each other to manage the pace since our goals are similar. I’m actually hoping he comes with his ‘A’ game and he can bring me to a level that I may not reach if I ran alone. It should be an interesting experience.
My training over the month has been really solid. I’ve been running 6 to 8 X 800 interval runs, 8 to 10 mile tempo runs, and 15 mile long runs every week and have progressively been able to pick up the pace every week. In addition, I have been getting some really good core fitness workouts in through kettlebell training and yoga. My recovery between runs has been excellent, further contributing to the quality of each run.
To determine a realistic time goal for the upcoming 10K, I took my 5K time trial I did a few weeks ago and plugged it into the McMillan Running Calculator. Based upon the results, the calculator states I should be capable of running a 10K in 38:59 (equating to a 6:16/mile or 3:54/km pace). This seems pretty reasonable and I have established this as my ‘B’ goal. My ‘A’ goal is to run a sub 38:45 and my ‘C’ goal is to run sub 40 minutes. So I’ll be satisfied with anything below 40 minutes and ecstatic if I run under 38:45. A time over 40 minutes will be a disappointment as this would tell me that I raced poorly and didn’t live up to my potential.
Here is my plan and race strategy as I head into the last week of training:
Taper: I am reducing mileage this week and next week in order to taper before the run on Saturday, May 8th. For example, I reduced my 10 mile tempo down to 8 miles this week and will further reduce this next week to about 5 miles. For intervals, I plan to go from 8 X 800s this past week to 6 X 400s next week. I plan to reduce my long run this weekend from 15 miles last weekend to 10 or 11 miles this weekend. However, to keep the legs fresh, the intensity of the the runs will be the same. Also, I plan to build in two full rest days before the 10K race, so my last run will be on Wednesday of next week.
Nutrition: Over the next week, I will maintain a stricter diet and try to eliminate any junk food. Plan to eat a moderately high carbohydrate diet (pasta, rice, whole wheat cereals, soba noodles), but not at the same level as I would if I were carbo loading for a marathon. Plan to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and minimize meat intake. For protein, I plan to eat natto, tofu, soy milk and protein shakes. If I stick to healthy eating, it should assist in leaning me out before the race. I will also make sure I stay fully hydrated during the week by carrying a bottle of water with me everywhere I go.
Rest & Recovery: I will strive to get a full 8 hours a sleep every night this week along with a nap in the afternoon. I’ll be doing some yoga daily to assist in recovery and relaxation. I also have a sports massage scheduled this Sunday evening, which should help with some much needed muscle and skeletal alignments.
Strategy: Since the race starts around 10:25 a.m., this should provide me sufficient time to fully digest breakfast, which will consist of whole wheat cereal, a banana, toast and coffee. I will probably eat breakfast around 6 a.m. and follow this up with a energy bar, fluids and gel about an hour before the race. I do not plan to take in any fluids or gels during the actual race since it would only slow me down. About 30 minutes before the race begins, I will warm up for about 15 minutes with some jogging and brief 10K pace intervals followed by about 5 minutes of stretching. Then I will line up, hopefully as close to the front as possible, and when the gun goes off go out at a moderate pace, around 6:26/mile for the first 2 kilometers. Although to achieve a 38:59 goal, the average pace is 6:16, I don’t want to start off too fast as this is a common mistake by most runners – and I plan to make up the time in the next 6 kilometers by increasing my pace to 6:10/mile. If I can achieve these paces up to 8 kilometers, it should put me in a great position to assess how much I can push the pace for the last 2 kilometers. If things are falling apart, I can pull my pace back to 6:26/mile and still achieve the 38:59 goal. Better yet, if I’m feeling good, I could slightly increase my pace to and achieve a sub 38:30. If I continue to maintain the 6:10/mile pace, then I’ll still obtain my ‘A’ goal of a sub 38:45.
Things to Remember: To keep things simple, I’ll be reciting these mantras during the race: (1) don’t start too fast; (2) maintain good posture/relaxed breathing; (3) concentrate on the middle miles, don’t let the mind drift – you may lose seconds; and (4) the pain in the last two kilometers is only temporary – stay mentally tough all the way to the end and try and pick off a couple runners with a strong kick at the end.
So we’ll see how things go. I’ll post a race report next weekend after the race.