Practiced a great training exercise Thursday morning with George. He learned it from a book about Kenyan running. The practice didn't have a name that he knew of, so we called it 'head start.'
This exercise simulates using other runners in a race to help you achieve and maintain your desired race pace. The idea is that you choose a runner well out ahead of you who is running at about your same pace. By steadily accelerating to the top of your planned race pace, you slowly gain on that runner reeling him or her in until you catch, pass and pull ahead. Then you choose another runner up ahead, and do the same thing. The strategy can work well if you plan to negative split a race because you can choose runners who match your accelerated pace at various points on the course.
We practiced 'head start' that same way yesterday at the track. George ran out ahead of me at a moderate pace and when he reached the other end of the track, I set out to slowly, but steadily, catch him. Each time it took me two full laps, a half mile, to catch, pass and pull ahead of him. I had to be patient not to sprint, and I had to trust that just a little bit more effort would soon pull me close enough so that I could pass. Yesterday's practice simulated the end of a race. George challenged me each time to push my speed higher at the very end to pass him before reaching an imaginary finish line. "You're doing it right," he said, "if you feel challenged in your effort, but be patient not to push too hard too early in a race."
The lesson was effective. Now let's see if I can put it into practice tomorrow morning at the Pittsburgh Pirates 10k!