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Lomong’s Record Run A Masterpiece of Pacing

Clap your hands twice – almost as fast as you can, but not quite.

That’s probably around .15 seconds, or the amount of time Lopez Lomong broke the American indoor 5000 record by Friday night at the Armory in New York. His 13:07.00 beat Bernard Lagat’s 13:07.15 on the same track in the 2012 Millrose Games.

To take down a legend like Lagat, everything had to go right for Lomong, and it did:  A fast track, a talented group of teammates from the Oregon Track Club to pull him along, and most important of all – nearly perfect pacing.  Take a look at the Lomong’s splits for each 1000 meters:

1st 1000 – 2:39.9

2nd 1000 – 2:37.8

3rd 1000 – 2:36.5

4th 1000 – 2:38.5

5th 1000 – 2:34.4

Breaking it down even further, LetsRun.com’s Robert Johnson was at the track reporting lap-by-lap splits, and none of the leader’s laps were faster than 30 seconds or slower than 33 seconds. An amazing 19 of the 25 laps were in the 31s!

When chasing a record or a specific time, the hard part isn’t getting consistent splits in the early going. The hard part is expending the right amount of energy throughout the race such that you don’t slow down at the end, or on the other hand, have too much left in the tank.  Lomong maintained his pace beautifully at the end, running solo for a final four laps of 30.74, 31.06, 31.23 and 30.58. This suggests he got the race just right – like baby bear’s porridge in Goldilocks.

Lagat, by the way, went sub-27 in his last lap a year ago, so one could argue he could have gone faster overall by kicking earlier, but who knows for sure.

In an upcoming podcast, Brenn and I will discuss optimal pacing and how it usually plays out in the real world. Stay tuned.


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