Kenosha here we GO!!

Hey Runners!

We are approaching another GREAT weekend of racing for many Chicago runners! This includes a large group of participants from CARA’s 2011 Winter Marathon and Half Marathon Training Programs, who are racing in the 2011 Kenosha Full and Half Marathons on Saturday, May 7. The Kenosha events have grown over the past three years into attractive, very well managed races. And, they are conveniently located just 60 miles North of Chicago.

Interestingly, the Kenosha events offer a unique combination of challenges that provide a “Laboratory Experience” for the development of effective race management skills. These factors are common to other marathon courses of varying degrees of challenge. Reports from runners who have raced these courses over the past 2 years and a review of the rolling terrain and the current forecast of weather for Saturday in Kenosha, suggests that runners who do not race mindfully, will encounter some difficulties – errors in race judgment are likely to result in slowing of running pace during the latter half of both the Full and Half Marathon events and significant mid race and post race discomfort. However, effective race management is likely to limit the iprobability of unpleasant results. Please review the following relative to effective racing in Kenosha on May 1.

GENERAL RACE PLANNING – As a reference, please refer to my earlier blog, posted on April 28, recommending running races in 3 roughly equal segments of increasing speeds. This concept is often described as “Negative Split Racing.” Though the argument in favor of “Negative Split Racing” is compelling, external factors often require adjustments to this race strategy as described in the following:

RACE PLANNING FOR KENOSHA – The events in Kenosha offer a great opportunity to experiment with adjusting racing strategies in response to the following external influences to be expected while racing in Kenosha on May 7:
• Terrain – the course is rolling throughout – though the degree of inclines and declines do not appear to be great, runners will NEVER be on flat ground!
• Wind direction and velocity – 8 MPH Winds are forecast out of the East-Northeast – that is off of the lake and therefore imposing a “Wind-Chill” to Core Body temperatures!
• Air Temperature – Temperatures are forecast to be in the mid 40’s to mid 50’s
• Humidity – The humidity is forecast to be 77%
• Rain – There appears to be a 30% chance of light rain showers

So, though not certain until Saturday morning, it currently appears that runners in both events will be facing the possibility of rain, a strong likelihood of a combination of Head, Tail and Cross Winds throughout their races and the virtual certainty of a continuing cycle of “Up-Hill” and “Down-Hill” terrain.

I recommend the following pacing strategy, to manage the constantly changing external influences in Kenosha –

• Implement an “In and Out” race strategy relative to hills and wind –
o An “In” is an aggressive pace, focusing upon being posturally upright and with very brief foot contact time with the ground during “Down-Hill” and/or “Tail Wind” segments
o An “Out” is a slower pace than an “In”, while focusing upon being very relaxed and using the least effort possible – posture and very brief foot contact time with the ground remain very significant during “Up-Hill” and/or “Head Wind” segments

• Run at an “In” (higher) level of intensity while running efficiently during
o “Down-Hill” segments of the course
o Segments when assisted by a “Tail-Wind”

• Run at an “Out” (lower) level of intensity while running efficiently during
o “Up-Hill” segments of the course
o Segments when resisted by a “Head-Wind”

• When encountering a “Cross Wind” remain posturally upright and focus upon being very relaxed and efficient

I recommend the following race strategy specific to the Kenosha Full Marathon course and the wind forecast for May 1:

Race Segments

Start to 3.5 miles of Up-Down-Up Terrain with a Head Wind

3.5 – 4 .5 miles of Down Hill Terrain with a Tail Wind

4.5 – 8.1 miles of Down-Up-Down Terrain with a Head Wind

8.1 – 19 miles of Rolling Terrain with a Tail Wind

19 – 26.2 miles of Up-Down Terrain with a Head Wind

I recommend the following race strategy specific to the Kenosha Half Marathon course and the wind forecast for May 1:

Race Segments

Start to 2.5 miles of Up-Down Terrain with a Tail Wind

2.5 – 8.5 miles of Rolling Terrain with a Head Wind

8.5 – 11.5 miles of Down-Up Terrain with a Tail Wind

11.5 – 13.1 miles of Up-Down Terrain with a Head Wind

An “In” intensity level is appropriate during the final 3-6 miles of a Full Marathon and during the final 1-3 miles of a Half Marathon, regardless of the anticipated influences of Wind and terrain.

Selection of gear that will assure a healthful core body temperature during rain is very important. This is likely to be gear that is both water repellent and breathable (maintaining body heat but also allowing air to cool body heat as needed). Gear that covers head, torso and hands will be effective tools for maintaining a healthy core body temperature. I recommend making final gear choices just prior to the start of the race. This will require arriving at the race with several hat, shirt and glove options.

Running efficiency is always going to be a HUGE factor in determining racing results – both in performance and comfort levels. The importance of running efficiency is increased as the influence of external factors, such as hills, wind and heat are increased. Running in the most posturally upright position with a very brief period of foot contact with the ground will result in high levels of running efficiency. It will be helpful to re-establish an upright posture and a foot strike point that is beneath the hips after completion of each down-hill course segment.

Most of all – HAVE FUN!

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About coachbillleach

Coach Bill Leach has been coaching runners of all ages and levels of performance for 43 years. 36 of his athletes have achieved All-American Track and Field and Cross Country honors and several runners he has coached have qualified for Olympic teams. Coach Leach is currently serving Chicago runners in their preparation for racing distances from 5 K to Full and even Ultra Marathons. He leads Gait Analysis, Peak Performance Training and Speed Training for the Chicago Area Runner's Association – CARA. Runners from Chicago and the world utilize The Training Organizer, an electronic training system for runners recently developed by Coach Leach. Coach Leach meets and trains with runners several times each week at tracks and along running paths in Chicago.
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