Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hangin' and Bangin'--Not the Stotan Way

The following is from the archives of The Stotan News. May you find it of some help as you begin the upcoming racing season.
"I rarely go into a race with preconceived tactics. The only tactics I admire are those of do or die," quote by Herb Elliott. We've all experienced it before,you're in a race,cruisin' along,thinking you are doing the best you can when you become aware that someone is running a little behind you. Initially paying it no mind you find yourself becoming mildly annoyed when this runner is still with you a half-mile or so later. As this continues you try throwing in a few brief surges to drop him but they remain a step or two behind. With the finish in sight you pick it up with intentions of finishing fast and strong. At the same time your unwanted running partner also picks it up and blows by you to finish 10 yards in front. The above described tactic of sitting,leeching, and then kicking it in, is what I call hangin' and bangin'. And folks,I've got a confession,I've utilized this technique in the past as part of my race "strategy." I don't believe it would be a stretch to say many of you have done this also. However,I have come to learn that this is not the Stotan way to race,and in many but not in all cases, it is a gutless way to race. In a related matter, I remember watching either the '88 or '92 Olympic 1500 meter final as the best in the world ran an extremely slow race for 1300 meters and then kicked it in with 200 meters to go. The finishing time was the slowest 1500mtr. final since the 1952 Olympics race! All I could think was,what kind of way was that to race one of the most prestigious races? So where do I get off saying sitting and kicking it in is not the way to go? I should clarify this statement by saying it's not the Stotan way. You only have to read the quote at the beginning of this article plus the two I'm about to write to conclude that anyone who purports to be a Stotan would not use the hang and bang strategy. Former world marathon record holder Derek Clayton said: "I've never been one for sitting back in a race no matter how I feel. I prefer to go 20 miles and blow it for a fast pace rather than go the whole distance and finish about 10th or 20th." Not surprisingly Cerutty nails it when he says: "Rather be beaten than let another athlete make all the pace and beat him in the last few yards." As a thought, it's interesting in reading the above that this go for it mentality was part of their character unlike those of us who have to make a conscious decision to be more aggressive in our racing. Some runners I've spoken to about this subject say, "who cares, I'm not a Stotan so what value is this type of strategy to me?" Take a moment and think about this "go for it" mentality. Ever run a race and believe you're doing rather well,you're running smoothly and efficiently telling yourself that with a half or three-quarters of a mile to go you'll begin a long kick to the finish? However, as you approach this point the inevitable fatigue(translation-pain) sets in and your plan of stepping it up becomes one of maintaining pace. Running a race aggressively could eliminate this from occurring but I would keep two things in mind: #1. This strategy shouldn't be done if you aren't in proper condition to do so. Too many people race without being in shape. It only takes a visit to a local road race to confirm this statement. #2. As Cerutty wrote: "this (strategy) does not mean we go off like a frightened hare but we have acquired an instinct for pace." As we reassess our training periodically we also need to do so with our racing.

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