Banking time in a marathon. It seems like a relatively sound idea. “I’ll just run the first half a little faster to account for the time I might lose later”.
We’ve all thought about it. Tried it. And gently wept afterwards when it didn’t work.
The idea of “banking time” really is appealing for the typical “Type A” personality runner. It’s like doing your homework on a Friday night so you can enjoy the weekend. We think, “If I can just put the work in at the beginning… I can coast later on and still meet my goal”. Seems logical, but it’s the wrong approach!
Even splits are the answer!
Ask anyone! Go ahead, I’ll wait…
Experienced marathoners will undoubtedly tell you that even splits are the best way to run a marathon. That’s the approach the pros over at Marathon Pacing take. And pretty much everyone I’ve talked to has told me their fastest marathon times were achieved by running even splits.
Further more, experts say that (on average) for every one minute you “bank”, you will lose two minutes later on. For example, if you bank 10 minutes in the first half, you will lose 20 minutes in the second! Yikes!
Dont bank time, bank energy!
This is a piece of advice I got from an experienced marathoner that stuck with me. “Don’t focus on banking time. Instead, focus on banking energy.”
My next marathon (Run for the Red Marathon) is a net downhill course with most of the downhill in the first half of the race. I was discussing potential race plans, and threw out the idea of “banking” some time on the downhill section. The idea was quickly shot down.
Even splits were strongly recommended. The reasoning is that running my goal pace on the downhills would take less energy than on a flat surface. Therefore, I would hit the half way point with more energy than I normally would. This means I should have plenty left to run the second half right on pace. Even better, I might have extra energy and be able to pick up the pace in the later miles!
What about negative splits?
If you are one of those rare gifted athletes that can run each mile faster than the last for an entire marathon, more power to you! Maybe I should be reading your blog! For the rest of us, even splits are your best bet.
Awesome! What should I do now!?
Go for a run, dummy!