Thought I would commit to weblog how I approach racing a marathon.
1. Decide what time to target for. Taking into account - the degree of difficulty of the course (although, why not pick a fast course, like Melbourne, Canberra, Gold Coast?), the weather (cold and still is best), and your fitness (the indicators I use to decide how fit I am are my body weight, and my average weekly mileage over the previous eight weeks). Typically I would aim at a pb of about 4 minutes, e.g. after I ran 2:26 in 1978, I targeted 2:22 from then on!
2. First 15 kms concentrating on conserving energy - running very relaxed and evenly at target pace, trying to focus, resisting the temptation to chat and joke!
3. 15k to 30k. Getting serious! - pushing harder to maintain the pace.
4. 30k to 35k. Working very hard through this section, trying to get to 35k as soon as possible with a little bit left in the tank.
5. 35k to 40k. Count down begins. Forgetting what time I went through 35k in, throwing caution to the winds and counting backwards from "7k to go". I have a time target for this section alone (slightly slower than average pace).
6. 40k to finish. The final countdown. I have a time target for this section too, which I try and achieve regardless of what has gone before.
I am a pacer rather than a racer. A racer would say "hang on to the pack until you drop off". That's not my preference - for one thing, passing people through a race spurs me on. For another, I tend to start much too fast if I take that approach, and that's OK for shorter races but catastrophic in a marathon.
What's your approach?