Running the Tangents


During the BAA 10K last weekend, one thing that frustrated me was people hogging the corners. Turns out, that’s what you should do and what elite runners always do. OK, I will stop judging now.

I actually read a great explanation over at Science-Based Running about how and why you should hug the corners, also knowing as “running the tangents.” When officials chart out a course, they go by the shortest legal route. This explains why your GPS watch says you ran 3.3 miles in a certified 5K course, if you started and stopped exactly at the start and finish lines.

What I find fascinating, is that “DC Rainmaker did a thumbnail calculation for the National Marathon (now the Rock N Roll USA) and came up with a full half mile, which might be 5 minutes or more for a typical runner!” Five minutes in a marathon may not seem like a big difference, but if you’re trying to qualify for Boston, it’s a world of a difference.

What was also tempting during the 10K, but not legal, was going outside of the cones to pass people. I saw a few people do it, but I knew it wasn’t really acceptable. You’re basically making it easier for yourself than everyone else by running on a clear path. It happened around Miles 3-4 when we had already passed the halfway point and were looping back past the course we had just run, and by then there weren’t too many people behind us, so the opposite side was pretty clear.


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