Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Ultimate Pace Card - Way Too Cool Edition

With technology, specifically wrist GPS devices, pace cards for races are not nearly as important as they once were. However technology has its limits, battery life, GPS accuracy, satellite linking and an array of other issues can impede the usefulness of these devices. With a handy pace chart in your pocket you can always be assured of having the information you need on hand.

My biggest problem with GPS is a lot of the races I compete in take me longer then the 18+ hours my Garmin 310xt will last. I started running ultras before I owned a Garmin so I compiled a list of things I wanted to know at all times when I was on the course. Some of them can be calculated or shown on your watch, but many of them cannot.

The essentials
  • Aid stations and mileage point
  • Which aid stations have drop bags
  • Full aid or partial aid (sleep station...etc)
  • Distance between aid
  • Pace for a given finish time
  • Pace to a given aid station
  • Any cutoff times if you think you will be near them
  • Elevation chart to see what is ahead of me
  • Time of  day (used for 100 mile races)
  • Mantras and/or strategies to remember

You can download it here. That is the full copy from a 3:30 finisher to the cutoff at 8:30. Feel free to use it for WTC 50k or just use the format for any event of your choice. I'll also be posting all the pace cards of the events I do on here as the months go on. Simply take out the times you know you won't be hitting. For me I'm shooting for 5:15-5:30 so I want everything from 4:30 to 6:00 on there.

I use to calculate the times. Their pace calculator is easy and quick. I’m sure there is a nifty excel formula one could put in but I don't know it. Kudos to anyone who wants to relay that info in the comments section.

If the elevation chart is online I copy that and cut it out in paint. Then I print it and paste it to the back of the pace card. I also use the extra room on the back for my various mantras or strategies that I want to make sure to remember.

Of course the chart is no good if it’s not water/sweat/and snow proof, plus it needs to be durable beyond that. I like to fold and bend them into smaller squares so they fit into my pocket. This problem is easily overcome by the beauty of clear packing tape. Cut out your pace card and place it on the table. Grab your packing tape and cut a piece so that it is a half inch longer on each side of the card. Apply the tape to the front of the card and then flip it over. Do the same to the back. Cut around the edges leaving only a small border. Make sure not to have any 90 degree edges as they tend to dig into the skin through fabric, I round the corners instead of squaring them.

Now you can fold the chart into any size you wish and you will always have all the information you need for any race!

WTC is only 10 days away and I feel like I'm running about as fast as ever. I'm only doing a short 2-3 day taper since it's not my goal race for the year so I'll be going in with tired legs. That week should be the largest week mileage wise I've had in years.

For more tips and tricks of the Ultra world head over to Facebook and like DeyFit Endurance Training. As always if you'd like to venture into the Ultramarathon world but are not sure where to start, I do offer coaching services. Head over to either BrandonDey or DeyFit Endurance Training and shoot me an email. Happy trails and fast feet!