R4TK Review

My race report for the Run For The Kids was based on perceptions during the event itself. In the stupid hours of the following night shift I wondered if these perceptions were accurate. Did my perceived effort match my pacing? Was I really going fast for me? Was this supported by my heart rate? Did the finish time reflect where I should be based on recent racing and training? Are there some lessons to learn to help me train and race better? Night shift being night shift, I wasn't able to answer any of these questions at the time.

Let's attempt to find some answers. There were two key strategies that guided me for the 14.38km race:

  1. go out fast, build and hang on

  2. go fast, when the course is slow

I'll start with reference to the heart rate (HR) profile recorded and displayed below (click the image to link to a clearer one).

The first 35 seconds from the gun time, was occupied by moving very slowly towards the start line. The the first split marked is when I crossed the starting mat. From there I attempted to go out relatively quick for me, but was quite hampered by the number of competitors. The reality was I had a forced ease-into-it start. It wasn't until the decent into the tunnel where the gaps opened up and I could genuinely pick up speed. This is reflected with the steady increase in HR throughout the start. With hindsight, that first kilometer was definitely slower than I wanted. Maybe 20 seconds lost that I could have had with a clean run, but this is the reality of a race with big numbers. I'm still unsure exactly how this affects the rest of the race. Does the build allow a faster over all average time, or is simply some time I can't get back?

When the course turned more skyward, it is clear by the steeper rise in HR, I picked up the effort. Go fast when the course is slow. As the terrain leveled off, I settled into what still felt too fast. This took me through the first 5km at a 3:52/km pace. The next 5km was no trouble with competitor numbers. My effort was dictated by the terrain. The HR climbed on the uphill and settled back down a bit on the descents and flats. The average for this section was 3:47/km. The final 4.38km, I was struggling to keep the speed up, and while the HR was relatively constant, it was a little below that second 5km average. The slowing was steady over this last section, but the average here was 3:53/km.

As far as my HR curve shows, other than two key spikes on the main two climbs, followed by a small dip, the HR was fairly constant throughout. It remained right up above my anaerobic threshold level. Averaging 169bpm with peaks at 179bpm (90% & 95% of HRmax, respectively). So a reflection on a descent output. Looking at the HR curve, it would likely have been more efficient not to go quite so hard on the first climb, and ease off as much as I did just after this. A more even output over this first section may have gained me a few extra seconds overall.


According to the McMillan Running Calculator my time for the race was exactly where it should be based on my recent half marathon performance. While 14.38km isn't listed on the table, I looked at the predicted 15km race pace: 3:51/km. Exactly what I ran. To be pedantic, maybe I should have hit 3:48-50/km, but is in the range. When I match this to my perceived effort, I find I need to readjust my expectations. For the most part I felt as though I was going significantly faster than was sustainable. Yet, for the most part I did manage to nearly sustain the paces. As it turns out, that effort level is really what is required.

Combining the R4TK with the Emergency Services Games, I now know I need to rethink slightly my comfort levels. Learning to suffer was already at the back of my mind for my next training/racing period. This has pointed out, I should get a lot of gain if I can better handle and endure the simple act of going hard. I need to set up some training regular training that pushes this envelope and really put myself out there in races.

In the end I take away the following points:

  • A steady build, without significant spikes in effort is likely to be an optimal race start

  • There is still some room to push the average intensity up, such as from 90%HRmax to 95%.

  • It should feel this hard. Suck it up and get used to it.

  • Remember how the middle 5km felt. This is race pace.

  • A lot can be gained or lost in the last 3rd.

  • Running on feel can work, if you have a plan and know your body.


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