This weekend's 17.75K was the first race I ever ran that I fully intended on NOT RACING. I went in unstressed, excited but not anxious, relaxed. Or so I thought. When I later got the chance to look over my splits, I noticed an interesting statistic.
G, MCM Mama and I hit the first mile marker in 9:58, a rather conservative pace for me. When I run a 10 minute mile in training runs, my heart rate averages between 139 and 142. Well, take one guess what my average heart rate was in that first mile ...
Nuts, right? It gets even more interesting when you consider that my average heart rate in mile two, which I ran in 9:44, was 155. Seeing these numbers got me thinking. First, why was my heart rate so high in mile one? And second, how can I use this info in future races?
I think my heart rate was so high due to an abundance of adrenaline. I didn't really feel overly stressed or excited about the race, since I was using it more as a training run than a speed test, but apparently my body was feeling it (perhaps this is my OVERLY competitive nature coming into play). Then once I settled in, the adrenaline wore off and my heart rate regulated. Makes sense to me.
So, how does this affect my other races? Well, here is my thought. If I am racing for a specific time, I usually start a little (little being the key word) slower than my goal pace to warm up. But this "slower" start is still a much faster pace than I ran on Saturday. Add this faster pace, which is going to elevate my heart rate, to my "adrenaline boosted heart rate" and I'm pretty sure I am not going to get that recovery like on Saturday. This might explain why my heart rate was over 180 for the majority of the MAC Half marathon in early May. Maybe?
Either way, this information is helping me formulate a new race strategy for events over 10 miles. I think I need to be ULTRA-conservative in my starts during these longer races. Not just the 15-30 seconds under goal pace in that first mile. "Losing" a minute or two in the beginning would be much better than crashing with miles left in the race. Unfortunately, I don't have another race to test this out until September and I am not sure I can simulate the "adrenaline effect" in a training run. So I guess I will just have to wait and see ...