This week Gilly asked me my aims for the race this weekend. When I told her, she said ‘how will you pace yourself?’ I thought about it and …. I had no clue. Other than that I would run the race and see what happened.
My approach to running events has always been a bit reactionary: I’d check my times during the event, and work out how I’d finished based on what I saw. I’ve always been a ‘push when I can, slow when I need to’ kind of runner. This is for two reasons:
- I don’t have a Garmin, I use Strava on my iphone. Which makes checking pace regularly a little tricky, trying to wrestle it from my back pocket without dislodging my headphones
- Maths escapes me. Unless I’m mid-run, and then it’s a good distraction technique. It takes me longer to work out when I’ll finish that it would take you, I promise.
So, to those readers out there who are familiar with pacing and are thinking ‘are you kidding? A running blogger who doesn’t know about pacing?’, I apologise! And fellow bloggers, I hope I’m still allowed to be a member of the club.
But for those of you who aren’t familiar with pacing, join me on an excursion through the wonderful world of timing your races.
Preparing your Pace
The basic idea is that you work out what time you want to finish your event in, and then work out how long each mile/kilometre should take. You can then keep that in mind when training for the event so you’re used to that pace by race day. It will also help you keep your pace consistent throughout the event.
Um… yeah. Could be more consistent. Can you tell where the hills were?!
Take a look at the course map, and identify any areas where you may need additional time, like hills. Make sure you factor that into your over all pace!
This should give you a pace plan which you can use during the event. Standard pace plans will show you what time you should reach 5k, 10k, 15k etc so you can check to see if you’re on track.
Practicing your Pace
Runner’s World sugests that you find a course which is 3/4 of your event distance, and practice at your goal race pace. Run it once a week, and take note of how your body/breathing/mind feels with each one so you understand how your body responds.
Although it’s no fun on your own, try to incorporate interval training, hill runs or fartleks into your weekly runs. These will help you adjust to your goal race pace if it’s faster than normal, and will also get you used to pushing yourself when you’re tired! You’ll also see a big difference when you go at a consistent pace after a few months of intervals.
When practicing your pace, you may want to try negative splits, which are big talk in the running world: this is where you start slower, speed up throughout, and finish at a faster pace than you started. Many runners start too fast in races as the adrenaline kicks in, and this will help you avoid that!
Race Day Pace Day
For my race day, Gilly suggested I write the 5K split times I’m aiming for on my arms so I can quickly check where I’m at. I am going to try to save my brain from working on running and division at the same time on Sunday.
The second half of your event will most likely be tougher than the first, so prepare yourself for this. All your interval training will come into play here and you can push yourself through it!
I find that focusing my eyes on something in the distance, and my mind on the rhythm of my breathing really helps in those moments where you’d prefer to give up and stuff a donut in your face at the earliest opportunity.
Another good idea, and one to help you pick up the pace towards the end, is to pick one person and focus on ‘reeling them in’. Then as you pass them, select another. This will break down the last few miles into easier chunks, and will keep your pace up so you finish strong!
So thank you Gilly for encouraging me to use this more logical approach! It sounds like it’ll be much better than my previous one, which was: ‘can you run harder right now? well bloody go on then!’ This already feels like a much better mantra:
I’ll let you all know how I get on, but in the meantime, pace out, man! Haha.