Training Tip:  Don’t “Bank Time,” But Build a “Cushion” Instead
REVEL Race Series
Oct. 5, 2021

Some runners use the phrase “banking time” to allow for the typical slowdown that occurs in latter miles of a race due to fatigue. The idea is that if you run faster than your overall goal pace for early miles, you will have “banked time” by putting yourself “ahead of schedule” by a certain point of the race. Later, as you slow down, you will be “making withdrawals” against that “banked time” to stay on schedule overall.

For several reasons, the “banked time” concept is not a good idea. Instead, think of building a “cushion” of time that you expect to use in your favor on the slower parts of the course. The cushion is built by taking advantage of gravity in the segments where the downhill profile favors faster running. As opposed to the “banked time” concept of running very fast (or too fast, as some critics say) early in the race, with the expectation of slowing down later in the race, the “cushion” idea is that you are doing nothing more than taking advantage of gravity, while using good course management to gauge where you are overall vis-à-vis your goal pace.

This “cushion” idea is the concept that you should embrace for a downhill race. Instead of “banking time” on the downhills, you are merely running faster than goal pace, or as fast as you can comfortably run downhill, to account for the favorable downhill profile. Likewise, slowing down on the climbs is expected. Don’t think of it as “making withdrawals from banked time.” Instead, think of it as sound, smart course management. You know that you will run fast downhill, and you know that you will slow down uphill.

The key to making this concept work for you on race day is to practice “running faster than you normally run.” With proper speed work, downhill intensity work, and pace work, your training program should have you well-prepared for the extensive downhills at a REVEL event. If you are new to downhill racing, the REVEL Online Coaching Program will provide all of the workouts you need to prepare for that PR or BQ you’ve been chasing!