How to Pace the Perfect Event

Pacing Your Best Event Yet!

You see it all the time, the starting gun goes off, everyone is filled with pre-run adrenaline and run the first half a mile way, WAY to fast and start to fade very quickly, making for quite an unpleasant run! Which arguably none of us want!

The trick to enjoying your event more is in your pacing. Holding yourself back at the start of the gun, not sprinting because you feel good, you want to establish a good rhythm and fall into your stride within the first 400m.

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An over eager start increases your body temperature more quickly, which speeds up your sweat rate, thereby depriving you of much-needed body fluids. As research has shown, even the slightest bit of dehydration will significantly hamper your performance and enjoyment of the event!

When you practice your pace, you can learn to run the second half of your races faster than the first. This is called running a “negative split” From experience races are enjoyed more this way as your body is fully warmed up and you can maintain the same pace with less effort or increase the pace without expending more effort.

Pacing takes practice and even the most experienced runners get it wrong so you are not alone, pacing drills ‘event’ based efforts and mental strategies all have a part to play to whether you know what pace to start out at. Not forgetting to mention the help of running tech these days.

Here is a breakdown of tips to help you get your pacing right on the day!

  1. Get used to your pace

    Whether it is your first ever event or you are a seasoned runner you will have an idea of how a specific pace feels or you know from previous events what pace you should be hitting come race day. Take into account what the course is going to be like as you may have to adjust your goals.

  2. Get yourself a running watch or tracker

    Running watches/trackers can play a huge part in how well your event pans out in terms of pacing, what a running watch can do is show you how far you have run, what pace you are running and how much time you have been running for. But don’t use this as your only tool for pacing. From time to time lose the tech and listen to what your body is telling you.

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3. Perceived Effort

How do you feel from a scale of 1-10 (1 being able to easily read a paragraph when you run and 10 being only being able to say a single word.) At the start of an event you want to be no higher than a 5-6 out of 10, you should be able to say at least a sentence but not breathing too heavily. If you do feel like this, it’s time to evaluate how you are feeling. Replicate this from mile to mile.

4. Allow some flexibility on event day and control the controllable -

This is one of the biggest parts that a lot of runners forget about come event day. You turn up to the race, gale force winds with rain and you forgot about that hill at mile 2. It’s time to evaluate what to do. Do you still try to go out at your planned pace and see what happens? OR hold back a little bit because of the adverse weather and enjoy yourself that little bit more knowing that you can’t control the weather and there will be another race? The latter sounds more appealing!

The same goes with how you are feeling on the day, you may wake up with a grumbling stomach that won’t shift, it’s making you feel uncomfortable but you still want to run. Set off way slower than you planned to and you will probably find the stomach pain shifts and you can find a good rhythm. It’s all about putting less pressure on yourself especially when you can’t control the variables.

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In conclusion, it is now time to put it all of these tips together and execute accordingly without being influenced by the crowds of runners around you.

An event plan for the day is only half the equation. The other half starts in training and listening to what your body has to tell you depending on what pace you are running.

Next time you are out on an easy run, spend time gauging effort by clicking off miles without looking at technology but rather feeling, thinking, and listening to what your body is saying because it has a great way of telling you if you are feeling good or today might not be a great day.

Over time you will get used to what your body is telling you and you won’t have to rely on any technology to help you pace and everything will become second nature.

Marcus Sladden