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Racing Strategy

10k to Half-Marathon Training Plan

By | General, Racing Strategy, Scotiabank Vancouver Half, Training Tips | No Comments

10k to Half-Marathon — “Sun Run to Scotia Half” Training Program

Just finished the Sun Run? Well that means you should be able to run a Half-Marathon! Follow along with this simple nine week program to get you ready for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon in June. No more excuses — get out the door and get ready to run! Register for the run today!

 

WEEK MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Apr 23–29 Rest 4km Cross-train 4km Rest Cross-train 7km
Apr 30–May 6 Rest 5km Cross-train 4km Rest Cross-train 10km
May 7–13 Rest 6km Cross-train 5km w/ hills Rest Cross-train 12km
May 14–20 Rest 6km Cross-train 6km Rest Cross-train 14km
May 21–27 Rest 7km Cross-train 6km w/ hills Rest Cross-train 16km
May 28–June 3 Rest 8km Cross-train 7km Rest Cross-train 18km
June 4–10 Rest 8km Cross-train 7km w/ hills Rest Cross-train 20km
June 11–17 Rest 8km Cross-train 7km w/ hills Rest Cross-train 12km
June 18–24 Rest 5km Rest 4km Rest Rest 21.1km — Event Day

Cross-train with swimming, hiking, cycling, yoga, or strength training. Make sure not to over do it on these days as they are part of your recovery process. When adding in hills, try to incorporate a few steady climbs into your route, anywhere from 200m to 500m long.

Running Shoes vs. Training Shoes: Are They The Same?

By | Racing Strategy, Scotiabank Vancouver Half, Training Tips, Uncategorised | No Comments

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RUNNING AND TRAINING SHOES?

Running and training shoes may look similar, but the key differences are in sole flexibility and heel drop.

  • Running shoes are built for heel-to-toe movement and the higher heel drop in running shoes comes from added support and cushioning. Take these shoes on tracks and runs.
  • Training shoes are for multi-directional movement, especially lateral (side-to-side) movement. The sole of a training shoe is flatter, making it more flexible to allow a wide range of movement. Take these shoes to the gym.

WHAT ARE RUNNING SHOES BEST FOR?

This one is more obvious – running shoes are for running. But how do running shoes help with running? Running shoes protect your feet when pounding the pavement over and over again. Where a training shoe helps with side-to-side movement, running shoes help with forward movement. Running shoes also provide more cushioning and support, which often translates into a higher heel drop. This makes for more comfort during long distance runs when you need lots of shock absorption.

WHAT ARE TRAINING SHOES?

Training shoes support a range of movement, including: cutting, stopping, breaking, jumping, and changing direction quickly.

This makes a training shoe versatile and good for many different types of workouts. You can think of training shoes as your all-in-one gym shoe.

You can usually tell a shoe is a training shoe by how much flatter the shoe is. The technical term here is the “heel drop,” which refers to the distance from the heel height to the toe height.

WHAT ARE TRAINING SHOES GOOD FOR:

  • High-intensity gym classes and outdoor boot camps – cushioning for high-impact and run training
  • Weight lifting – heel support so you can go lower into squats and then stand up
  • Strength training – a training-specific last makes for extra space in the forefoot
  • Agility training – grooves and outsole patterns for traction during plyometric and multi-directional movement

You can even do short distances on a treadmill. Anything longer than a 5K is usually better with running shoes for shock absorption.

HOW SHOULD TRAINING SHOES FIT?

Training shoes have a comfortable upper and flexible midsole for multi-directional movement. A lower heel drop puts you closer to the ground to push off and pivot. Training shoes are lightweight for easy and efficient movement.

RISKS OF USING THE WRONG SHOES FOR YOUR WORKOUT

Wearing the wrong shoes may lead to problems such as:

  • Discomfort
  • Lowered performance
  • Injuries

DISCOMFORT

The wrong type of shoes can cause discomfort in many different ways. You may experience blisters, aches and pains, or soreness. It may be the reason your shoe doesn’t feel quite right. The best shoes don’t get in your way at all – letting you do your workout without hardly noticing them.

LOWERED PERFORMANCE

Wearing the wrong type of shoe can keep you from performing your best. When you’re putting in the hard work to get better, the last thing you need is your shoe to be holding you back. Running shoes during plyometrics can keep you from pivoting quickly. You won’t have the grip, traction, and flexibility of the sole a training shoe provides. Without running shoe cushioning and support, it may be harder to up mileage or get faster.

INJURIES

Running and training shoes provide specific types of support to prevent injury. Here are some of the ways a mismatch of shoe to workout may increase your chances of injury:

  • Running shoes for lateral movement: higher heel drops make for a higher chance of ankle sprains during lateral movement
  • Running shoes for plyometric workouts: the extra cushioning and support from running shoes can keep you from landing properly and can increase your chances of a knee or ankle injury
  • Running in training shoes: without the cushioning and support of running shoes, you can increase your chances of getting plantar fasciitis
  • Not enough running support: stress fractures can occur from running without proper support, which can happen when using minimalist shoes lacking cushioning to absorb shock
  • The wrong type of running shoes: tendonitis can happen when you aren’t wearing the running shoe for your pronation type – whether it’s an overpronator needing a more structured shoe or a neutral runner wearing a shoe with too much arch support
  • Lifting weights in cushioned shoes – it’s best to do lifting in shoes with little cushioning

Don’t forget shoe size. Too small of shoes can cause your toenails to turn black from bruising and fall off. You should be sizing up at least a half size to account for the natural movement and swelling of your feet during workouts. You may also need to find the right shoe width for your comfort.

If you’re still unsure about what shoe is best for you, find an ASICS retail store for expert guidance or your local specialty sports store.

 

This blog was originally written for ASICS, and can be found HERE

How to Fuel Your Training Runs

By | Eastside 10k, Edmonton 10k, General, Nutrition, Racing Strategy, Scotiabank Vancouver Half, Uncategorised | No Comments

By Kim Doerkson

Regardless of whether you’re training for a road or a trail race, if you’re racing for over an hour, it is worth looking into how to fuel your training runs.  It may seem counterintuitive to eat during a run, especially if one of your goals is weight loss.  When the time spent running increases, it’s beneficial to have some kind of fuel to keep energy levels up.  Think of it like driving a car: if the tank is full, there’s no risk or fear of the vehicle breaking down; on the other hand, if the gas level gets low, it could damage the engine and leave you stranded on the side of the road.  The same is true for running.

So what is the best thing to eat during a run to avoid hitting the wall / bonking?  Like anything, it’s personal, but there these are a few go-to’s for runners:

  • Gels. These are widely available at any running or outdoor sports store and are the most common sources of fuel during races.  Essentially just little packets of sugary goo, gels are an easily digestible sugar source that can also include electrolytes and / or caffeine depending on the type.  There is a large selection of flavours, and they’re conveniently pocket-sized, making them the most runner-friendly.
  • Chews / Chomps: Exactly like they sound, chews are the runner’s version of gummy candy.  Much like gels, they are made with sugar and can have electrolytes and / or caffeine to help boost your energy levels during a run.  Unlike gels, chews require a bit more work: they needed to be chewed (hence the name), and more of them need to be consumed to match the caloric intake of a gel.  Typically 4 chews are equivalent to 1 gel; this is great if you prefer to eat throughout the run, and not just in bursts like you would with gels.  Just make sure to try a number of types are some get stuck in your teeth more than others!
  • Candy: Sugar-highs in children after eating sugar is the result runners are looking for; but maybe not to the extreme of the sugar-crash and crying after.  Most people have a favourite candy, so it’s a good start to fueling during the run.  Bringing wine gums, or any gummy candy keeps blood sugars up if they start to falter, and taste good at the same time.  Their only downfall is that they’re straight-up sugar.  Chews and gels will have a mix of electrolytes in them too which helps to keep electrolyte balance in check when sweating out salts on a run.
  • Dried fruit: Simple and natural. Taking a ziplock bag of dried dates, figs, raisins etc. is a great option while out for a long run.  Natural fruit sugars are readily accepted by most stomachs as an easily digestible fuel source.
  • Energy balls: These are most common during big train runs as there is more opportunity for slower paces while trekking up hill, and typically take longer than a road run due to technical terrain and elevation changes. Easy to make at home, energy balls consist of a mixture of dried fruit, nut butters, chocolate, coconut, and various seeds.  All natural ingredients with good fats, sugars, and a little protein goes a long way when out for a long time!

For all of these options, practice goes a long way.  Don’t show up to race day and decide to take a gel or eat during the race if you haven’t practiced in training.  It takes time to get your body used to fuelling while running, so include it into your training plan.  Also be sure to research what in-race fuel is available and if it’s not what you’re used to, make sure to pack what your need before getting onto the start line.

Adjusting your race goals when things get hot

By | Racing Strategy, Training Tips | No Comments

Racing in the heat can be tough: you sweat more; your body temperature is higher; and your perceived exertion goes up for paces that are usually manageable.  The heat throw a wrench into your plans, both mentally and physically, especially if all of your training has done in cooler weather.  Most runners have race day plans for their pacing, various race strategies, and nutrition, but it’s rare that people plan for significant weather changes.  While you won’t be able to change the weather, there are ways to adjust to prepare yourself in a short amount of time:

If you’re travelling to run in a hot race, try to arrive to your destination as soon as you can.  Taking a few days to acclimate will make a big difference come race day.  The body needs time to adjust to the heat, especially if you’re coming from a cooler climate.

When temperatures go above 20C , the negative effects of heat start to amplify, so the least amount of exposure to the heat and sun possible one race day is ideal.  Cut your warmup short and do just enough to get your muscles moving and ready to ease into race pace. If you there’s an opportunity to keep cool in the shade, take it.  Also, think about bringing a towel to soak in cool water or ice, to place on your neck/hands in an effort to keep your core temperature down.  You’ll feel more comfortable at a cooler temperature and ready to run fast as a result.

Once the gun goes off, try to start at a slower pace and adjust your goals.  The heat can negatively affect the race, but it won’t necessarily sabotage it entirely. If you’re sensible in your approach, a fast time is possible, it just might not be a personal best.  By going out a little bit slower than initially intended will keep you in check, and increase the likelihood of finishing the race strong.

Throughout the race understand that your fueling strategies may have to change.  Your body will be working hard to regulate your temperature, so the fuel that you’re used to may not sit well in your gut.  However, drinking a fuelling is key so do your best to consume early and often.  Taking in nutrition while you’re feeling good in the first half of the race, will help you in the latter part of the run if things start to go sideways.  Taking even just a sip or two or water/sports drink at every station will help to get you to the finish line.

Adjusting your race plans and goals when the heat sets in can be enough to salvage a race.  Throughout training be sure to plan for any and every kind of mishap, it can make a difference when it really matters!

How to deal with hitting the wall

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Hitting the wall is one of the worst feelings to have in the middle of a goal race.  It can happen during training as well if you haven’t fueled or hydrated properly. However, it’s easier to cope with a botched training day than a ruined race day.  The “wall” is the point of sudden fatigue in any endurance event that can be brought on by either poor pacing, poor fueling, or poor preparation.  The result is what feels like a death march for the remainder of the race, and is something that every racer tries to avoid.  While nutrition is very individual, there are other ways to train your body to be able to avoid and cope with hitting the wall.

Before the race:

Stimulate race fatigue.

Running on back to back days helps to train your muscles to work when they’re already tired.  Incorporating long runs that have some intensity worked into them helps stimulate the fatigue that creeps in on race day.  If you have a long run scheduled, try throwing in some surges, tempo efforts, or change of pace to get more bang for your buck.

Dial-in your nutrition.

Throughout training, especially on long runs, try to practice the fueling strategy you want to use on race day.  Typically, taking it a gel every 45-60mins is the standard, but people can handle more or less than that depending on what their stomachs can handle.  Practice different fuelling methods throughout your training cycle and learn what your body responds to the best.  An important thing to note is that fuel should be ingested before you feel like you need it.  There is delayed absorption of fuel in the gut so if you only fuel when you’re starting to feel like you’re going to “bonk”, it’s too late.  The goal of mid-race fuelling is to stop your body from going into a large deficit and hitting the wall.  Don’t forget about your everyday nutrition too.  Eating a slightly higher amount of carbs the week leading up to the race will help your body store extra glycogen for your muscles to tap into when they need it most.

If you’re in a position where you’ve hit the wall, here are a few tips on how to cope during the race:

Acknowledge, but don’t succumb to the wall.

When you start to feel like you’re losing steam and the wall is drawing near, understand that this is normal.  It’s not going to be a great feeling but you’re not alone.  The wall forces us to lose hope, shutdown, and want to quit.  When realizing the wall is looming ahead, focus on a repetition that distracts you and have faith in your mental strength.  Find a focal point: whether it’s a mantra, a face, your own breathing, or a memory that keeps you moving forward, use it to your advantage.  By switching your focus to a more positive experience, it’ll help the body cope with the pain and fatigue that “hitting the wall” brings.

Create mini-goals.

Depending on where the wall hits you, getting to the finish line may become too daunting to think about. Instead, create mini-goals to help you reach the end.  When you’re feeling mentally and physically beat, even the smallest successes can help propel you towards your goal.  Aim for the next lamppost or water station, celebrate when you reach it, and then create another stepping stone.  Celebrating little victories can help your moral and boost your drive enough to cross the finish line.

Get tough.

Sometimes even all the tricks in the book might not be enough to distract you from bonking. That’s when you have to hunker down and give it everything you’ve got.  Trust in your training and remember how many times you’ve toughed it out. Either in workouts, in terrible weather, or on days you didn’t want to run.  All of these situations exude mental toughness that you’ve been building throughout training just as much as your physical fitness.  Utilize that strength.

While these tips aren’t a flawless way to beat the wall, it’ll put you in a far better position to conquer it!

Common Race Mistakes (plus how to avoid them)

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When race day arrives, runners seem to forget everything they’ve done in training. Nerves interfere with their normal thought processes and causes people to overthink and doubt their abilities. Understanding that if you trained smartly and effectively, there is no reason to freak out on race day; it’s the fun part! However, race day mistakes are so common that recognizing the issue and dealing with it before it sabotages the race entirely is key. Here are some common problems and how to prevent them:

  1. Forgetting something essential.
    It’s really important to lay out all of the essential items you’ll need on race day the night before. Make sure your outfit is washed, dry and ready to go; your race bib is secured with safety pins onto your top; and you’ve set an extra alarm to ensure you wake up in time. Plan a few different outfits in case of changing weather. Prepare any other pre-race necessity, as it’s calming to have everything sorted out the day before. This will help your race morning go smoothly and you’ll arrive to the startline on time.
  2. Arriving late.
    This can be related to problem #1. Scrambling on race day and not being organized the night before can lead to a delayed departure. If you wake up late, can’t find a sock, or any other minor disaster occurs, it can make you late for the race start. While most races have a small window from when the gun fires for the race start until they close off the start line, many other components of the race are time-sensitive. Bag checks, port-a-potty lineups, traffic, and the hustle and bustle of a race can all take time. Be sure to get up with plenty of time to get to the race start efficiently.
  3. Not having a race day plan.
    Having a plan for race day is important for a successful race, but it also needs to be flexible. Many runners will line up at the start knowing the exact kilometre splits they want to hit, but may not account for terrain, weather, or race day mishaps. Have a pre-race plan: know how you’re getting to the race, what time you need to leave, the race day schedule, and your racing details. Always account for issues such as traffic, line ups, and unexpected weather changes. For the race, have an understanding of the race course to help set realistic time goals, and inform you about where to ease off/pick up the pace. Adjusting your goals based on the conditions of race day and the course will leave you satisfied at the end of the race, instead of being disappointed.
  4. Not warming up.
    It may seem counter-intuitive to run before a race even starts, but it’s a good idea. The shorter the race distance, the more important a warm-up becomes. Anything from 5-10 mins before a marathon, to 2-3 km before a 5 km is enough to lubricate the joints and loosen your muscles. It allows the body to warm-up, move efficiently and reduce the risk of injury, especially on cold weather mornings.
  5. Starting the race too fast.
    At every race there will be a runner than will sprint off the start line like a bat out of hell at a pace they can’t maintain. This not an effective way to race. Tapering before a race leaves your legs recovered making it easy to feel good right from the get-go so race pace may feel easy at the onset. As the race progresses, especially if you’ve run the first few km at a ridiculous pace, that speedy start can come back to bite you in the butt later on. Adrenaline will carry you through the first section of the race, but make sure to reign yourself in so you can finish the race strong and not hit the wall halfway through.
  6. Abandoning race nutrition plans
    Any training runs that were compromised due to taking in the wrong type or flavour of fuel and caused you to hit every bathroom for the rest of the run is the reason why we practice. These mishaps are what you want to avoid on race day. Knowing what flavour/brand of fuel works best, whether you should drink water or a sports drink, and the timing of your intake is key to a great race. If it’s left up to fate, your GI system isn’t very forgiving. Don’t abandon your practiced energy intake plan and solely rely on on-course fuel as it may not be available when you need it, or be the flavour/brand you’re used to. Implement the regime you practiced throughout training for fueling success; no one wants to race with GI issues or bonk and hit the wall.
  7. Putting too much faith in the pace bunny
    Pacers are great tools for staying on pace, but they aren’t robots. Utilize the pace bunnies to keep you on track, but don’t forget to have faith in your own abilities. Keep an eye on your watch just in case, and be willing to let go of the group if you feel you need to change your pace.

It also helps to go over the event details before showing up on Race Day. Know where package pickup is, how to get to the start line, how gear check works – simple stuff, but important to have all that info. Race Weekend details for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k are here so make sure you read them before the big day in June!

Beginner’s Guidebook to Race Etiquette

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If you’re preparing to run your first race or your hundredth race, here’s some important race etiquette to keep in mind.  In order to make a race the most enjoyable experience possible for everyone participating, follow these simple rules:

PRE-RACE

  • Read the website, entry form or other race information before contacting the race. All of the race details you need to know are probably there.
  • Respect entry restrictions. Check if the race permits wheelchairs or baby joggers, imposes a minimum age, or has time restrictions.
  • Pay attention to packet pickup hours. Do not show up at other times and expect to receive your race packet/number.
  • Carefully check your information at packet pickup. The time to correct any errors such as age, gender, or misspelling of your name is BEFORE the race.

RACE DAY:

  • Pin your number on the FRONT of your shirt or outermost clothing and keep it visible. Announcers, photographers, timers and medics use it to help identify you.
  • Start in the correct corral. There is a reason why races ask for your predicted finishing time.  Slower runners and walkers should move into to the later corrals as their race bib indicates to avoid any congestion for faster runners trying to pass by. Arriving early doesn’t mean you can start at the front of the race. If you want to switch corrals, there are usually spots at package pickup to request that change.
  • No more than two abreast.  It is incredibly frustrating to try and pass a large group of slower individuals who take up the width of the street during a race.  If you’re in a large group, respect other races, and stay two abreast.  If you’re walking, please remain behind the runners to avoid obstruction.
  • Pass on the left, stay to the right. If you’re speeding along, pass runners on their left. If you need to slow down, move to the right to allow others to easily pass. The first mile or so of a race can be crowded and sometimes you need to weave to pass people.  Just be aware of those around you.
  • If you need to stop for any reason move to the side.  Whether it’s an untied shoelace, your walk/run program, or an urgent phone call, don’t stop dead in your tracks. Look around, move to the side and slide back into the race when you’re ready.
  • Be careful taking mid-race photos. Many runners love documenting their journey, especially since selfies have become all the rage.  These are great mementos, but please step to the side when taking them. The last thing you want is another runner plowing through you and your phone shattering on the ground.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Portable headphone devices for iPods, MP3 players, phones etc are discouraged for your safety and the safety of others.  Blasting music in your ears can block out any verbal warnings/directions or sounds of vehicles/participants along the course.
  • Be conscientious of other runners at water stops. If you’re skipping the water, run straight through the station and don’t crowd where the water is located.  If you need to wet your whistle, minimize congestion by grabbing quickly and move to the side once you’ve passed the water station volunteers before slowing down.
  • If you drop out, tell someone.  Sometimes race day doesn’t go as planned.  If you need to drop-out, be sure to tell a race volunteer so no one is looking for you afterwards.
  • Run through the finish line. Hundreds of runners are coming through behind you, so move towards the medals and snacks to avoid congestion in the finishing chute.

Now that you know the basics, if you’re looking for your first race to run the Scotiabank Vancouver 5k in June is a great beginner-friendly option. Make sure to sign up soon though, as this event has sold out the last three years running!

Preparing for your First Race

By | Race Roster Spring Run-Off, Racing Strategy, Training Tips | No Comments

With race day approaching fast, it can be daunting if it’s your first one.  There are so many tips and to-do lists all over the internet, but which ones are actually useful?  Sometimes the lists are so long, the race prep becomes scarier than the race itself!  Here are a few of our key preparation tips for running your first race:

The week before the race:

Stop stressing. 

Races are meant to be fun. They’re great community events with an incredibly positive atmosphere for both runners and spectators.  Locals line the course and cheer you on; volunteers take time to ensure your race experience is top-notch; and you get to celebrate accomplishing your own goals amongst other like-minded people. Race day is an exciting time!  Even if it doesn’t pan out exactly as you had planned, soak in the experience and take what you’ve learned into the next race.

Cover the route beforehand.

Course tours are a great way of familiarizing yourself with what to expect on race day.  Knowing what hills or tight turns there may be, will better prepare you and alleviate any unnecessary stress.  If nothing else, it’ll prevent you from getting lost!

Get off your feet. 

In the days before you race, try to stay off your feet as much as possible.  Doing additional training in the week before a race won’t make you more fit, in fact it can just make you more tired.  Relax, enjoy the taper knowing that the hard work is done!

Don’t carb load in one sitting.

The key to the carb-loading phenomenon is to gradually increase your carbohydrate intake in the few days before the race.  Lower training volumes and higher carb consumption allows the muscles to store more fuel to be utilized on race day.  Eating one massive bowl of pasta the night before a race won’t help your energy stores and can leave you feeling heavy and bloated.

Eat what works for you. 

If you have a particular meal that you eat the night before long runs, or big workouts, that’s the meal you should have the night before the race.  Trying anything new can put you at risk for GI distress during the race.

Pickup your bib the day before.

Your bib is one of your essentials for race day.  Head to the race expo/package pickup as soon as you can to make sure you have everything you need.  Pin it on whatever top you’ve decided on to be ready for race day morning.

Get ready the night before & stick to what you know.

Lay out your gear and know where your necessities are.  Plan on wearing an outfit that you know doesn’t cause any irritation; prepare a race-day breakfast that you’ve had success with before; and don’t try out new shoes or race fuel on race day.  Stick to what you know!

Catch those zzz’s.

Pre-race nerves can leave people feeling anxious and can interrupt their sleep.  Rest east knowing that it’s actually the sleep you have two nights before a race that is the important one!

Race day:

Limit your fluid consumption.

The days leading up to the race are when you should be hydrating, but race morning isn’t the time to be chugging back fluids.  Sip at water or electrolytes in the morning, but don’t go overboard.

Arrive early.

Having picked up your race bib the day of two before the race means that all you have left to do is warmup, use the washroom, and gear check anything you need to.  There can be lines of people at the port-o-potties or gear check tents, so arrive with enough time to factor that in.  You don’t need to start your race with a sprint to the start line.

Carry the essentials.

Don’t forget to carry a piece of ID, write your information on the back of your bib, and bring your credit card or cash in case something goes wrong.  There are always plenty of volunteers and spectators along the race that will be able to help you, but you want to be overly prepared.  Just in case.

Bring a garbage bag.

If it’s going to be a rainy day, garbage bags make for excellent throw away rain jackets.  They’ll keep your running attire dry and warm, and can be thrown to the side once the race begins.  Just make sure to go to the side of the road to toss your bag so you don’t hit anyone running behind/beside you.

Set a few goals.

Not every race is going to be spectacular, and it’s good to be prepared for that.  After the months of training, it’s great to set a few goals: an A goal that could be achieved on a perfect day; a B goal that is reasonable is the conditions or your body is feeling sub-par; and a C goal that has nothing to do with your finishing time.  That way, no matter what the day brings, there will be something positive to take away from it.

Start slow, and stay even.

It’s easy to go off the start line like a bat out of hell, but it’s important to keep your adrenaline in check and start conservatively.  The first part of the race usually feels easy as your muscles are fresh and ready to go.  If you start too fast, the time you’ve “banked” can come back to bite you in the butt later in the race when the fatigue sets in.  Try and maintain an even pace, and if you’re feeling good, expend that remaining energy in the final stretch to the finish line.