Pacing for any run is somewhere most runners go wrong. It’s very difficult especially if you’re not a regular runner or an experienced racer.
We naturally tend to feel great at the beginning of a run, add to that a dab of adrenaline and some nervous excitement and before you know it you have ran the first 3miles faster than you have raced a 5km and you still have 10miles to go!!
Pacing becomes especially difficult if you are unfamiliar with the course and if you have additional weather conditions coming into play on the day. The terrain needs to be factored into your pacing, downhill faster, uphill slower (obviously) also the running surface and most people forget that the wind can make a significant difference, a strong head wind can make as much as one minute per mile difference to a competent runner.
So what do you do then?
Firstly you should be aware of pacing in your training, each and every training run should be structured to be ran at a set pace. This needn’t be specific but at least you should observe pace in your training runs, either by ‘feel’ or by the use of a Garmin or GPS device or both. This way you learn how the terrain and conditions influence your pace and you train effectively, based on your running ability.
Next, come race day you have a set goal based on your projected time, this dictates your pace. You break it down to your splits. Have an idea of the course so for example, know where the flats and downhill’s are so it’s going to be faster, factor that in to your race plan.
The paces below are for a coached runner who wants to run a sub 1:40 for the Great North Run. These splits should be written on the arm of the runner or memorised pre race. They know the course, they know 97% of all runners will go off too fast and slow in the final miles. They know that if they hit these paces they will achieve their race goal!
1 mile: 7:34s 5km: 23:32s 10km: 47:05s 15km: 1:10:37s 20km: 1:34:10s Half marathon: 1:39:20s
Pacing is simple, the hard part is sticking to it!!