The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2016 is now exactly a month away, on 17th January. If you ran the half marathon there in previous years and are repeating the challenge, the change to the route along with the new start point might have raised a few questions.
Let us hope that the event logistics around the route change will be handled well for your enjoyment. What I can discuss is issues around your actual run effort. Here is my take on the route changes and a plan you could follow for achieving your target time this year.
The change in elevation profile
The primary concern that you might have is that the route will be tougher this year. The elevation profile has changed thanks to a loop of the city’s iconic Bandra-Worli Sea-Link. In earlier years we ran in only one direction, from Bandra to Worli. This year we will start from Worli and run from Worli to Bandra on the Sea Link and then return back to Worli on the Sea Link. We then continue towards Haji Ali but our run on the relatively flat roads of Prabhadevi and Worli will be shorter this time.
How much tougher?
I have played around with simulations on my computer model of the route, its elevation profile and a range of runner abilities, and my estimate is that the run will be about 1.5% tougher this year. (The range is likely to be 1%-3%.) You might be thinking, “Hmmmm… just 1.5%…that does not sound like much… right?” But, that isn’t really true. For a 2-hour runner, that 1.5% is about 1-min 48-sec. It could take you from 1:58:30 to 2:00:18 and ruin your chances of a Sub-2. Worth thinking about the details, eh?
Negative splits possible.
You have run a ‘negative splits’ race when your second half is faster than the first – not rare for experienced runners. For most recreational runners, even on a flat course, the converse is true, ‘positive splits’, i.e. a slower second half. Given the change in elevation profile, your probability of achieving negative splits increases with the new route. All other things remaining the same, your total time will be slower on the new route, but the split between first and second halves can be reversed from a slower second half (positive splits) to a faster one (negative splits)! This increased probability of negative splits all depends on the type of runner you are, including your absolute level of fitness and also your level of preparedness. Of course, you might not even care about your splits – which is also perfectly OK! I expect the majority of runners to have positive splits on this new course too.
Pacing yourself for a Sub-2
Although only about 10% of entrants finish the half marathon in under 2 hours, I would like to present you with a pacing plan for doing so. The one I did here for 2015 is also worth reading. This time, I take the case of two runners:
a) The Strong runner – she will finish in 1:58:00 with negative splits (second half faster than the first) running a faster leg near the finish, with a generally steady pace throughout, including the hills.
b) The Volatile runner – he will finish in 1:59:00 with positive splits (second half slower than the first) running a slower leg near the finish, with a generally weakening pace and greater variation up and down the hills.
Both runners have a tendency to slow down as the kilometers roll by, but this effect is less so with the stronger runner. As you will have seen in previous articles on pacing yourself like the one above or for Hyderabad I allow for a little extra distance than the headline 21.1km. If you have a Sub-2 target, use this table on race day, it will not fail you if you have trained well.
In case you are looking forward to running with a pacer at SCMM-2016, then it will be worth your while to also read about that in my guide to pacing and choosing pacers. Let us also hope that there is greater success among the pacers themselves and lessons have been learnt from SCMM-2015.
With the days rolling by, if this is your main race of the season, you will be looking to reach peak performance on race day. Reaching that level and maintaining it until the race is not an easy challenge. But meeting that challenge successfully will increase your maturity as a runner, And finally, remember, once your race is done, you could give some thought to why you need not run!
Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.