Race Pace with Ultra Runner Bryn Jones
by Foxy on March 01, 2019
For runners with pacing issues especially ultras... we have all heard the term ....Suicide pace. Forever enshrined by ...."the only pace I know is suicide pace and today is a good day to die" It might sound funny but it hurts. I even had it emblazened on a hoodie, although just like the effects it has on you in races and the embarrassment it can bring, standing next to someone that was raising money for a suicide charity before London was even more so.
The big problem I have is I don't know my boundaries. That has been a good thing as I have improved PBs by going out hell for leather and pushing myself to my limits. It worked in my football and it has worked in my professional career. It has worked for shorter distances to a certain extent but even then the pacing strategies need to be employed and you can improve PBs as you start to plateau from hammer pacing. There is no doubt by pacing I have helped get my times down and get new PBs even as a V40 runner, winning the Wirral 5KM series last year and new PB of 17:09.
There are some indicators that tell you that pacing is important, though. Examples : When you are a 17min 5km runner and lead a 5km race and the chap you are running next to has been in the Commonweath Games... that is a good sign you are going too fast. When you enter via a charity place and lead one of the countries hardest ultras, the Lakeland 100 for 30km, and when you turn up at your first 24 hour race and run the first 50km at world record pace and then try and put in a 20min 5km 75km deep before bonking at 100km and handing your chip in. These are signs that you are going too fast.
One comment that stands out in my mind is when Debbie Martin-Consani said "you are a loose cannon." The online dictionary states this as.... "An unpredictable or uncontrolled person that is liable to cause unintentional damage"... unintentional damage.... too much damage from bad pacing.
Also take legend Mark Denby. On a recent chat run with Mark near his home in North Yorkshire he told me he actually was a 100 mile walker before he started running them. This is a man that therefore knows what the risk free option is. Pacing and saving energy are key.
Chatting to Dr Ian Broadley on a run near the campus in Birmingham, whom has completed 7 Lakeland 100's and most of them on a negative split, he told me he is a great believer in pacing ... "it is imperative...Bryn."
When I came second to Charlie Sharpe in the Darwin day marathon in Shrewsbury. Again the guy, a class athlete, won it on a negative split.
These people are all great ultra runners. Call them Jedi masters. I am merely an apprentice. It takes brains and maybe call it a force to run a good paced race. It's not just raw power. This is more acute in ultras where if you ramp up HR too early you rip through carbs leaving you depleted. Your body can't replace them quickly enough as your body can't absorb them and you only have a few thousand in your body at any one time. I have heard this so many times. But always thinking I am invincible and I go out too fast.
Until now. I have now teamed up with Dr Garry Palmer at Sportstest and James Fox at Komfuel.co.uk to make me a better athlete. Is it possible to take a good club runner, one with severe pacing issues and turn them into something better? Firstly getting a VO max test and more importantly a test to see how far I can run at slower speeds has been key. Most important was the fact that based on my physiology if I ran at 6min/km and can fuel correctly I can run for 25 hours without depleting my carbs. Like the golden ticket in Polar Express... clipped out in that ticket ... it now reads "believe." I now BELIEVE I can do this if I run slower.
Secondly, James Fox at Komfuel has identified I lose a lot of salt when I run. As a result I am now taking Precison Hydration salts and found my longer runs are less painful.
So what is my focus now I know this info. Firstly the 7th Feb I return to the Big Bear events mid week six hour race. Last year I ran the furthest distance on a hot day at the Rugby Challenge. This year the target is to run with Richard Quennell where we pace each other for a 70km target at the Big Best Challenge at Ryton Pools.
Ultimately the main plan of this pacing strategy is to take all this wealth of knowledge and experience to The Basel 24 hour race in Switzerland in May and to "pace" the heck out of it. Engage brain and may the force be strong.