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Jim Freim December 28, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 1

Even Keel

A slow start and even pacing is the secret to coming out ahead

After 25 years of training athletes, I have determined trail runners' number-one mistake (drum roll please...) ...

After 25 years of training athletes, I have determined trail runners' number-one mistake (drum roll please...)—starting out too fast. Drivers have AAA to ensure they safely reach their road-trip destination, and trail runners need Even Energy Expenditure (EEE) to carry them to the finish line. EEE involves running at an even pace or intensity level from start to finish, leading to faster times, reduced injuries and a more comfortable race experience. EEE is a simple premise for optimal performance; however, it is also one of the hardest for trail runners to grasp.

Finding themselves bursting with anticipation and energy at the starting line, they are tempted to put the hurt on the competition—now! What was planned to be a 9-minute-per-mile pace, once the race is underway, is more like 8:45. Then suddenly, out of the blue, a monkey jumps on your back. No, make it an elephant. Previously effortless strides become a death march as legs turn to granite. Sensing discomfort and fatigue, your brain sends signals to your body to slow down and mitigate the damage. It's too late to revert to a 9-minute pace, and you slow to a discouraging survival shuffle.



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