One of the main objectives when you’re trying to run fast over a set distance is your ability to accurately gauge the consistency of your running speed over that given distance (read more here). The key is not to set off too fast too early and then blow up later in the race. It’s no good running the first 6 miles of a Marathon at sub six min mile pace then blowing up for the last 6 miles and achieving only 11 min mile pace.
I think we rely a little too much on our gadgets (GPS devices, power tap, etc.), don’t get me wrong they do have their place and are great for training data and motivation, etc. That said I also know that using these devises can on occasion hold back the athlete during a race.
Go out and practice during training without your gadgets and monitor your perceived effort and intensity over a distance you know. Make sure you accurately measure the distance you’re running or riding prior to the session, but don’t rely on GPS during the session, just use your watch. You will be surprised how good your natural instinct can become when it is trained. As the old adage goes “ if you don’t use it, you loose it!” I believe athletes don’t achieve their race goals due to this dumbing down of their natural pace awareness. They fail to fully recognise and understand their physical and emotional state during competition which can result in erratic performances.
As a coach I embrace many components of training including power, lactic testing and other performance objectives. These are key in training but race performance relies much more on the athlete’s ability to accurately gauge their perceived effort.
An example of good running splits Brian Fogarty at the NY Marathon today (splits here).
I coached Brian this season and he was 14th overall at Ironman Bolton, and posted a 9hr.30 at Ironman Kona. Next year we will working towards a sub 9hr Ironman.