Running Theory

Marathon Schwag
Marathon Schwag (Photo credit: JillWillRun)

While drinking in a bar with friends, we covered a few topics and of course running was one of them. One of my friends was a marathoner also. I love it when I meet other kindred marathoners. We have the same types of war stories to report to our friends. We sat for hours sharing our stories over a few drinks. Oh the memories!

He had run two Marathons and had decided that he liked the Half Marathon distance better. The first marathon he ran was a very hot and uncomfortable Atlanta Peachtree Marathon, then he ran the ING NYC Marathon (my personal fave). His Atlanta Peachtree race occurred early in the history of the race, so there was not enough support for the runner’s there. I told him that it probably had changed since most races now have many volunteers associated with them. Hey, it’s happened to all of us once!

The ING NYC Marathon just outright hurt him and he did not finish. The Queensborough Bridge did him in. I understand. I have been fighting against that bridge for years. One of these days, I will beat that bridge and then they will take me off the course because I’ll be yelling at the top of my lungs,”you’re my little puppy NOW!” I’m just too stubborn to stop before the sign that says, “Finish.” (That’s just me talking here.) Though I did not make it through one Marathon because I got lost. Yes lost. It’s a long story.

Both of us commented on how lack luster the racing scene was becoming around town, but we are always on the look out for half marathons in other places.

Whereas, I love Marathons but I realize that I need to run more half marathons to keep up the distance training. We both agreed that the Half marathons were a fun distance to run, because you feel not too bad at the end of one. My recovery is a few days for a full marathon. This brought to mind different types of running techniques that I used during my races.

I thought of the many different types of running that I do during my races to get through the race. I tend to try to stay at a specific pace when running but some times I have to use other strategies to keep up my pace. I can go from a full run in the beginning to a shuffle near the end depending on my frame of mind.

I learned about the Marathon shuffle or as my friend calls it the dead man’s shuffle.  I use this more as a quick shuffle than a last-ditch effort. I like to use that shuffle very often during a race to keep going at a specific pace.  It seems that you can do short steps with a quick turn over and run fast but steady. Sometimes it can seem a little bouncy, but if you can bend your knees you have a smooth ride.

A bigger than normal stride can be a bad thing, unless you are trying to pass a lot of people. Some races depending on where you are placed you may have to pass a lot. Though it is annoying, it can be liberating as you can find pockets of emptiness to run in during large races.

I also use the bouncy stride to pass people, this stride keeps you light on your toes while you move from one side to the other and duck in and out of a big crowd. I feel like a rabbit sometimes, but I cannot sustain it for a long time as it makes my legs tired.

For tired legs, I use the leg stretch stride where I stretch out my legs occasionally to keep them from getting tired. This technique is sometimes difficult if you feel cramped and tight while doing your race. Some times I need to do the walk for a second technique to change to this movement.

I return to my regular running style in between these techniques. This started me thinking about race strategies. With all of this fancy foot work, I needed to think about how I ran my races. Nowadays, it’s not the flat out running of the past. I have to plan to get through the race no matter how long or short.

For my half marathons I break them up into smaller pieces to run them. I like to break them up by 3 miles at a time until I get past the half (6.2 miles). Your job is to get to the half way mark in comfort and as quickly as possible. Then you get myself ready for the next 3 miles (miles 7-9), by maintaining speed, as well as you can. This will bring you to mile 9. The next 3 miles make or break the race. If you are in good shape speed up. If not hang in there, you never know, it may still get better. You either have to push hard or hang on. You need to get to mile 12 so you can get that mental boost. Mile 12 may even start to look familiar, especially if it’s an out and back course. Only one mile left, so you keep going and get ready to speed to the finish. If you have anything left in you, you can let go to the finish. After you can whine as much as you want! You’ve earned it. LOL.

You can do this method for other races, no matter how long or short, but time is a factor for the above strategies. The longer the race is the better the strategy works.

It’s all about the experience during the race and the war stories in the bar after! Cheers!



  1. Greetings! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing
    a blog post or vice-versa? My site addresses a lot of the same topics as yours
    and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you are interested feel free to shoot me an email.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Wonderful blog by the way!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.