Coogan’s 5K Race Analysis

This is an elevation chart I found for the Coogan’s 5K Race I did this past weekend. The race takes place in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in upper Manhattan where I used to spend a lot of time.

Most of this graph makes sense to me, as my legs still recall the uphill and downhill portions of the course.  What’s surprising is that my fastest and final mile actually was the hardest on the course.  It starts with an elevation gain of 145 feet over the course of a half mile, before a leg-pleasing 85-foot elevation loss. More time is lost on uphills than is gained on downhills, yet I posted a faster mile than the relatively flat second mile of the course.

I wonder if I held back a little in the beginning, and if I shouldn’t start off with a faster first mile. I read an an article about a study done about the different strategies of a 5K race.  Ultimately, they found that, “most of our women ran their fastest times off the 6 percent faster first mile." Surprisingly, those who went against the conventional wisdom of the negative-split were the ones who realized the fastest times.

It should be noted that the researchers suggest that, “the results of this study are probably most applicable to competitive open division and master’s division runners… Novice runners should stick to going out a little slower and gradually picking up the pace." The runners studied were Division 1 NCAA cross-country runners averaging about 35 miles a week in training.

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