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Hump Day Giveaway: How Do You Pace Yourself?

June 30, 2010

Two reasons why this won't work for me: 1. I don't pace myself and 2. A 3:30 marathon? As if.

My classic race pattern, no matter if the race is a 5k or 26.2:

Mile 1: Wow. I feel amazing. I can’t believe I feel this good. I’ve got this thing. In the bag. I can keep this pace up for __ miles, no prob.

Halfway point: Really, only halfway? Not sure I have another half of a race in these legs. Why do they hurt so much? And why am I breathing so hard? And why have my splits crept up by 35 seconds?

One mile from finish: Racing sucks. Running sucks. Garmins suck. Especially mine, which is clearly not synchronized correctly. Because my splits are  a minute slower than they were at mile 1.

Finish line: Thank God.  Thank God. Thank God. Never doing that to myself again. Next time, I’m going out slower. Next time, I will run a smart race. Next time, I will realize that there’s ___  more miles after the first euphoric mile.

Until, of course, I don’t. I swear, there’s a better chance of my kids getting along for one entire day–no she’s touching me; no he took my toy; no don’t look at me–than of me negative splitting (running the second half of a race faster than the first). Just not gonna happen.

Even though it’s most noticeable at races, pacing doesn’t just apply to events, of course. That sequence–feel great, feel decent, hang on, die–pretty much applies to every run I do. I’m getting better at warming up (read: walking while I get my Nano secured to my arm and find the exact right song), but once I push on the gas pedal, it usually goes to the floor. And then my tank incrementally–and inefficiently–gets used up until I’m empty and slow. You’d think after 20 years of running and writing about pacing, I’d learn. Then again, expertise doesn’t count for much. Don’t believe me? Ask BP.

I’m not the only one with a pacing problem. On our Facebook page yesterday, Kate wrote:

I am looking for some advice about improving my 5k times. Inevitably during a race, my first mile hovers around 8 to 8 1/2 minutes, my second mile more like 9 and my third mile is closer to 10. I’d like to be more consistent. For training I do one night a week of interval speed training with a running club in my area and usually two to three runs on my own varying from 3 to 5 miles each. I don’t need to be a speed demon, but would like to clear 27 minutes each race. Any suggestions on how to make my mile times more consistent?

So the topic for today’s Hump Day Giveaway is pace, a topic that applies to all runners: new or experienced, competitors, just-let-me-finishers or never-gonna-racers. How do you pace yourself? Are you a one-speed wonder? Do you fly and die? Do you actually have discipline to hold yourself back? What mistakes have you made–and possibly repeated? When has your plan come through? Do you use a pace band? I could ask and ask and ask  questions like Amelia does (her latest 10-times-a-morning whine: Whhhhhyyyy can’t I wear flip flops to camp?) but suffice it say, give us some insight into your perspective–or lack thereof–on pacing.

Funky Keens made from recycled rice paper. Wonder if they could make some out of old pace bands.

For your expertise, you may win your choice of a pair of Keen shoes. Which is the perfect footwear for summer, since they demand just one pace: slow. As in strolling farmer’s market slow. Or watching the sunset slow. Or splashing through streams slow.

So what advice on pace do you have for Kate? For your fellow mama runners? For yourself?

111 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2010 5:11 am

    I haven’t had my Garmin in my previous races. I’m using it during long runs by myself, but I run with a group on Saturdays. They pace me. 🙂 I haven’t been able to keep up with the group during the marathon, yet. My first miles are great… then they get slower as the race goes on. My goal this year is to break 4… we’ll see if I can keep up the pace this year… Really sore shins and calves have been getting in the way so far after a stress fracture last year.

  2. Alison H permalink
    June 30, 2010 5:43 am

    I ususally rely on my Nike Plus to help me hold back a little on the first mile. I know it’s not 100% accurate, but since I use it on my training runs, it gives me a good idea of how long I can hold out at a given pace. Caveat: in my last 5K, I ran in a new pair of non-Nike shoes & didn’t have a holder for the sensor, so I had to go by feel. And I beat my previous PR by over a minute and a half!

  3. June 30, 2010 5:45 am

    I am horrible at pacing! I have the Garmin…it kind of serves it’s purpose. I TRY to maintain a certain pace to reach my goals, but it’s hard!
    So..I have learned to “hitch a ride” with the people that do know how to pace ( oddly enough, none of them own a GPS–just a $15 sportswatch!) and share the same goals. It’s worked so far! Someday I might learn to pace, but until then I will continue to hitchhike!

  4. kim permalink
    June 30, 2010 5:46 am

    maybe we all ought to wear keen’s to RUN in…:)
    since the set pace is slowin keens
    and not worry about pace so much…:)

    i run about 9-10 minute miles
    and i dont’ care
    i run because i love running
    not because i need to be fast….

    so my pace is
    just run and finish
    and smile and sing
    and run some more


  5. Alison H permalink
    June 30, 2010 5:50 am

    I haven’t had the funds to invest in a Garmin just yet, but my Nike Plus does a good job. It’s not 100% accurate, but it is a good reference since I also use it on training runs. I generally try to run the first mile a little slower than my body wants to (using the Nike Plus as a guide), and by mile 2 I usually settle in to a steady pace. However — I just got a new pair of non-Nike shoes & didn’t have a holder for the Nike Plus sensor during my last 5K. I found another runner who seemed to have good form & a pace I could keep up with, and trailed her for the first mile and a half. I ended up setting a new PR by over a minute and a half!

  6. June 30, 2010 5:53 am

    i hold back to much and scared to give it my all till the very end.

  7. June 30, 2010 5:58 am

    I use pace bands from Races 2 Remember. They have helped me meet or come close to my goals during races. I don’t use a Garmin … yet.

    When I feel like I’m uncomfortable or pushing it too hard, I start to count out my steps in sets of four, to pace myself. I also do this counting backwards from 100 and it helps a mile pass quickly and comfortable. 100-100-100-100 …. 99-99-99-99 …. It helps me concentrating on my pace and my breathing. I increase my rhythm at the end and finish strong. I have also found this might help prevent side-stitches/aches. I never ever get them anymore, since I usually have my breathing under-control.

  8. Anitra permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:02 am

    What small little 4letter word but if you are trying to P.R. ,qualify, or just not die by the end of a race it can be that 4 letter word that gets you through. The pace bands are great if you do not let it totally consume you in a race same as with a Garmin. You do not want every picture you see of yourself looking down at your wrist. This is what works for me start a little slower than r.p. then lock into r.p. toward the end give it all you got and hang on.

  9. June 30, 2010 6:08 am

    during regular ol training runs i am pretty good at running an even pace usually around 9-9:30 (and sometimes lucky enough to get some negative splits in without really trying). but when it comes to races, i am horrible at pacing myself. the rush of adrenaline over takes me and i bolt out like a wild banshee. the worst was a 5k a few months ago. i think my first mile was sub 8:00-7:30 and i totally gassed by mile 2 and struggled to make it to the finish line. so i think the key for helping pace myself (especially for short races) first to get my nerves under control. i think once i figure that out, i can work on running short races at a slightly faster pace than during my training runs and finish with a decent overall time instead of flying out of the chute and crawling to the finish line with a crappy time.

  10. June 30, 2010 6:17 am

    I am very lucky to have a seasoned runner (my husband) who helps me remember to keep my pace in check in the beginning of races. I am a cautious runner as it is, always worried that I won’t have enough at the end, so I try to stay at a comfortable pace for me…I’d rather be steady than fast but having him there to tell me to slow it down helps tremendously. The real test will be this September when I run my first solo half. 🙂

    I love KEEN shoes–they are so comfy and cute!

  11. Carolyn permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:20 am

    I don’t own a Garmin but I’m starting to see the benefit in purchasing and using one. Until that day, my method is pretty simple. I try to hold myself back and tell myself, “Just run your race, just run your race, just run your race,” over and over during that first mile. And if at the mile 1 pace clock I’m ahead of myself still, I just pull back. But usually by that time, with my body warmed up and muscles into their groove, I somehow find that comfort zone – which for me is a 8:30 min mile. It’s like my body just knows when it’s there. This method has worked best for me in 5k and 10k races, and even a recent 10 miler. I’ve only done one marathon, although now that i think about it, it worked when I did my marathon, too. I trained for a 10 min mile and finished in 4:31.

  12. June 30, 2010 6:22 am

    My pacing techniques vary based on my mood. For 5ks I gut it out as fast as I can and try to hold on.
    For 10ks I run comfortably hard for 4 miles then go whole hog… if I have any hogs.
    For halves I’m all over the board: I’ve gone out too fast, too slow, just right. I think for me running even splits would be ideal. Too bad I almost never do.
    For marathons my best experience was running with a pace group. It was my easiest and best finish. Too often I start too fast thinking by some miracle I’ve become a supersonic runner overnight then reality comes knocking around mile 18 or 20. I can’t wear a pace band because I don’t run with my reading glasses. Not that I’d follow it anyway.

  13. Bethany permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:34 am

    I don’t use anything specific for pacing. I am, by no means, a speed demon. Right now, since I’m still recovering from having my baby (I’ll probably use that excuse at least until my baby hits a year old), I’m lucky to break a 11:30 pace (or 12:30-13:00 if I’m pushing the jogger). I try my best to go by feel with my pace. Lately, I’ve been running to the tunes of Def Leppard, whose songs are all at least 4 minutes long, usually around 5. So, when I start my run, my first song (usually a slower song) is a slow jog. Song #2, I bump it up a little. I try to hit my run pace by song #3. Depending on how I feel, I’ll alternate going faster and going slower with each song. Its not an exact science, but it works for me, and helps my workout go along a little quicker. I’ll usually set my cadence according to the beat of the song, if I want to keep it mixed up.

  14. June 30, 2010 6:35 am

    I don’t pay too much attention to pace/time. I usually have an idea of where I want to finish and I do. I’m a ‘slow and steady finishes the race’ kind of gal! It takes too much effort to think about pacing and with a busy household, the only thing I want to do is run and not think about anything!

  15. Katy permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:42 am

    I am still new at this running thing, so pace is above my skill level. I am just building lungs and legs at this point! I am running to run, and hopefully fall in love with it, not blaze any trails. My goal for my upcoming events is to finish without medical intervention. When I achieve that, I will tackle pace!

  16. June 30, 2010 6:43 am

    I’m not a very consistent pacer. I usually manage to get faster at the end of the run, but only to end the agony. First, I’m a total Garmin-hawk during the early stages of a race. I have a goal pace, and I work very hard at not surpassing that goal in the first mike of a 5k, the first 2 in a 10k, etc. But secondly, I also do workouts aimed not at speed but learning the feel of a certain pace. So I’ll run 800s that at first get faster, and then in the second half of the run I make myself run them slower. This is a good workout for me because (1) it goes against my natural tendency and (2) it forces me to think about what each pace FEELS LIKE–breathing, stride, heartbeat. Hopefully this will make me a more consistent pacer.

  17. June 30, 2010 6:46 am

    I have two paces: slow and the speed that happens when Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” comes on my Nano. I really need to sign up for that first 5K, don’t I?

    For now, I’m still marveling at the fact that I can run for 5 miles without stopping or feeling ill. : ) My secret goal? Break a 10-minute mile pace and keep it for the whole way.

  18. OtherJulie permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:47 am

    No advice for short runs…

    For a half I did a couple ago, I was in the porta-loo during the starting gun (the traffic into the park was icky.)

    I ended up behind all of the walkers (thank God for timing chips). We ran on the bike trails at the park and I ended up taking the first mile really slow. However, it ended up being a super warm-up. I didn’t go out too fast (even though I felt great) and got into a groove with pace. Plus, my ego talking, it was kinda good for my confidence to pass people.

    Have a nice day!

  19. Stephanie permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:50 am

    I haven’t given this too much thought, so I’ll be interested to read the good ideas here. During races I just really try to relax at first and let the faster people get ahead if they want to. I think to myself, “I’ll pass them on the hills later on” (and I often do!). That said, I’m not all that fast and my goal is more to get to the end of the race and still want to run again than to meet a specific time goal.

  20. June 30, 2010 6:54 am

    I am still trying to learn how to pace myself. It’s very hard when you are a slower runner. As soon as I am left in the dust I’m always like “sh*t!” So I am trying to learn to focus on me, my form, and visualize the finish line. My 2 best 5K times in the last year where when I actually warmed up before hand for about 20 mins. I was then able to start the race without huffing and puffing and feeling like I was being chased by zombies. So maybe that’s my key?

  21. rachel crisman permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:59 am

    I am not a real runner,just a wanna be. I have to push myself,pacing myself comes too easy!I have just started running and I haven’t gotten to a place yet where running is not painful and really hard for me.

    • SS Mother Runner permalink
      June 30, 2010 7:07 am

      one foot in front of the other creates a ‘real runner’.
      my dear, you ARE one!

    • June 30, 2010 10:49 am

      Yes…Rachel…if you run, AT ALL, you are a runner. Embrace it. Own it. Work it!!! The longer I run the more I believe-there is NOT a point in time when running is not “painful” and “really hard” no matter how long you do it-your body just gets used to it and decides it’s not worth complaining as much. Like I child who doesn’t get a cookie every time she goes to the store….she might not EVER stop WANTING the cookie, and might not ever stop asking for it–but if you tell her no, she’ll eventually STOP throwing a wild-eyed hissy fit for it. TRUST ME on this. Go ahead, call yourself a runner, it feels almost as good as when you leave the store with your child not throwing a fit!!

    • Beverly permalink
      June 30, 2010 10:52 am

      I used to feel the same way. SS Mother Runner is so right!! You are a runner. Getting started and keeping at it is the hardest part! Especially when running is still painful and hard! Keep it up!!

  22. June 30, 2010 7:07 am

    I’m too new to be any good at pacing…I DO try to run my first mile slower than I want to, but then my legs just do their own thing (and I gasp at the lady in my head when my Nike+ tells me I’m going WAY TOO FAST). Some days my legs want to run faster than my lungs can manage, and some days it’s slow and steady. I WILL say that my pace is creeping faster as I’m running more, and I can hold that faster pace longer.

    But mostly? I’m winging it…

  23. Joanmarie permalink
    June 30, 2010 7:08 am

    I always wear a sports watch but, honestly, it stinks to have to monitor it; so I have a set play list on my iPod and after a short while I’ve come to know that I should be at a particular spot on my route when a certain song comes up. It’s more fun than watching the clock!

  24. June 30, 2010 7:15 am

    I train with a Garmin almost 100% of the time and do not even look at pace. I go with heart rate all the way. I know what my HR should be for the easy runs and the hard runs and the in between. When I get home, I am usually pleasantly surprised by the evenness of the pacing. For racing, I go by feel, but as a triathlete, pacing is a whole other ball of wax…Good luck!

  25. June 30, 2010 7:25 am

    I have no insight on this. I just start slightly slower than I think I should be. I’d rather have more energy to give it my all in the end rather than having everything go downhill at the end because I started to fast.

  26. June 30, 2010 7:48 am

    I’m a new runner still trying to figure this out so I’m so happy you posted this question. My goal right now is consistency — I just finished training for my first 5k and in all my runs I went out too fast in the first mile, panicked in the 2nd mile that I wouldn’t make it and then picked up the pace for the 3rd. In my race I was so worried about going out to fast that I really held back (using the songs in my playlist as my guide) and I ended up having enough for a big kick at the end. Consistent 10 min miles would make me a happy camper and right now my music is my guide to get there!

    • June 30, 2010 1:32 pm

      I have found a lot of good ideas. My problem too is I start ok in the first mile in a 5K, but then my competitive edge takes over and I try to keep up with people in front of me, and the problem is the people in front of me are trained better. I have to learn to pace myself. My next 5K I’d like to run the whole thing without breaking to walk at any time during it.

  27. June 30, 2010 7:56 am

    I too am a horrible pacer, but I have the best pacer in the world now. It is called my hubby! He runs next to me, and when I get too slow he runs in front, he knows I can’t stand to have him ahead. And when I am tired and tell him I can’t go anymore, he says something to get me mad, and make me run harder.

  28. June 30, 2010 8:06 am

    I’ve struggled with pacing, too. Couple of things that have helped me:
    1.) My running partner Juliette. If I start out too fast, she lets me know. “Hey there, hot stuff, what’s with the bouncing already?” (she’s a tough-love kind of chica which I can’t help but adore. And she’s always right. I tend to be feel so great off the bat that I forget that the slow-and-steady/ease-into-it thing can be a very good thing.)
    2.) Running with someone else who goes out too fast. Awhile back I was running with a group and there was one woman who always started out fast. At first I thought, ‘Wow, she must be a really great runner.’ But sure enough, she burned out and had to walk toward the end of our runs. Every time.

    While I’ve been running for awhile, I’ve yet to use a Garmin. All this talk here about it makes me want to invest in one and see if that won’t help my pacing…Mostly, I just try to remind myself to take it easy in the beginning and listen to my body throughout my run. But I worry sometimes that maybe I could be pushing myself more…

  29. ikkinlala permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:06 am

    I have no idea what my pace actually is, but I keep a steady pace for at least a few minutes at a time by singing in my head.

  30. JnetRuns permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:09 am

    I have only one pace really, which is slooow. I seem to do the same pace for a 5k or half-marathon, but I’m working on it! Would love to get a Garmin but it’s out of my price range right now, I should put it on my Christmas wish list.

  31. Iliana permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:09 am

    Honestly, I just use music. I know the exact length of my p laylist and songs on it, and the distance that I am running, so I have my mile marks and by the point that I reach in the song when I get to the mark, I know how good or bad I am doing. I am pretty obsessive so I have avoided to get a garmin at all costs, because I do not want to obsess myself with data and stop enjoying the exhilarating experience of the run!

  32. June 30, 2010 8:10 am

    I am a pretty new runner, but I’ve found that it takes me a good 3+ miles to really get warmed up. Since I go slower for those first painful miles, the ones that follow are usually naturally at a faster pace. This was the case during my first half marathon last weekend. My first mile was my slowest – except for mile 10 that had a ridiculously steep hill.

  33. Christina permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:25 am

    I saw a really funny shirt at a stall at a race expo and it said something like “Race day strategy: start slow and then back off.” It cracked me up, but it’s sooooo true for me. I am by no means a fast runner (and will never really be) but when I started out, I did struggle a lot with starting out too fast and getting tired. I can’t say that I have a die-hard strategy for pacing. And I definitely don’t have any scientific way (like using a Garmin) to really see exactly what my pace is. If I feel like I’m pushing too hard, I’ll just force myself to back off a little. I’m doing half marathon training right now, and with the hot summer weather am really trying to be conscious of pacing. One trick I’m using is to listen to Jack Johnson, a.k.a. Coach Jack, music while I do my long runs. Seriously, HOW can you run too fast when listening to music as chilled out as Coach Jack’s???

  34. permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:27 am

    Pace. ha. haha. hahahahahahahahhaha. As a fairly newbie, every race I wonder what the heck I am doing out there, if my lungs are going to seize up and I might stop breathing all together, or if my heart will stop mid stride just to pay me back for the punishment.

    The way I see it, if I have crossed the finish line and I am still alive, I paced myself.


  35. Caroline Eakle permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:41 am

    I am so NOT an expert on anything running, I have only done 5k races so far…10k coming up in the fall. My number one advice about pace for myself and others espacially beginners is this: FORGET THE OTHERS AROUND YOU! I used to take off way too fast and then crash at 1.5 miles and finish slower because I tried to follow people that run the 5k under 20 min! I would panic a the start every time. Last race I listened to me and I beat my best time by 4 minutes!!! It is hard not to start faster but it pays off in the end. Now let’s see if I can do it again on the 4th of July race! To be continued. To help keep a good pace for ME I rely on the music on my playlist, no big science trick!

  36. June 30, 2010 8:59 am

    For me, it took several races to figure out what would work for me. Initially, I just blasted off and paid for it later in the race, which, at that time, was 5K’s…Garmin doesn’t pay me, y’all, but I’m telling you, the first race I ran with what I call, my BFF Garmin, I had my 5K PR because I knew what I wanted to finish the race in and I could monitor myself on my Garmin (305). Not only did I PR, but I felt great, parcelling out my energy the way I needed to for a PR. The older I get, the less freaked out I get about time. For 26.2, I’m happy to have the ability to start and finish. I hover at just over 4 hours and I’m okay with that. I think what works best for me is to figure out my hopeful finish time, practice the race (under a marathon, that is) distance and monitor myself to find my strong areas and weak areas. With a Garmin, I can allow for slower running breaks when I am typically tired in a race – in a 10K, it’s around the 3 mile mark. Since I know that about myself, I take it easy for a couple of minutes, and then pick it back up. I also know around mile 5, I start getting antsy, so I start turning up the heat. Now that is fun, y’all. Everyone is starting to fizzle, and I can just pop, pop, pop right past them. It’s great.

  37. Mary permalink
    June 30, 2010 9:02 am

    It’s taken a while but I usually try to have a plan going into the race. And then I use my Garmin, even once going so far as to set up the virtual running partner. I have to say that my 5k plan is usually, go out as fast and try not to worry about negative splits.

  38. Lee permalink
    June 30, 2010 9:04 am

    Before this year, I never once thought about pacing. But now I’m training for a triathalon, and my workouts require keeping track of split times etc. I have to say I LOVE my Garmin for this reason. It’s easy to use, but more than that it unlocks my competitive nature and I try to beat my previous split time – even when I’m exhausted. I’ve been amazed at how much faster I can go sometimes. Without the Garmin, I never would have pushed myself as hard.

  39. June 30, 2010 9:09 am

    Pacing? What’s that?!? 😉 Seriously, I always count the first mile or so as my warmup mile and speed up after that. I don’t have a garmin and I think my Nike Plus has it’s good and bad days so I don’t rely on it like I should I suppose. (More like I have my good and bad days!) Pacing is something I should probably work on. Right now it’s just something I’ve been ignoring!

  40. Kelli permalink
    June 30, 2010 9:13 am

    I have my Garmen set to beep at me every mile. As each mile unfolds I adjust my pace faster or slower . I usually need to slow up after the first mile. I always seem to get sweep away with the crowd and adrenaline at start of each race. I have a lot of trouble running my own race for the first mile.

  41. June 30, 2010 9:15 am

    For specific advice to Kate, I’d probably say to add an even longer run. Once I had more endurance, from running over an hour once a week, I was able to keep my “fast” pace for the entire 5k without much problem. This is a great question. I am usually the type who does not go fast enough, because I am afraid of burning out….maybe a little too afraid. I always try remember Kara Goucher’s manta “Run With Courage”.

  42. June 30, 2010 9:18 am

    PS – I’d add a tempo run. If she could do three miles at 9:00 pace in training, she could easily finish a race in under 27 minutes – good luck!

  43. June 30, 2010 9:33 am

    I suck at pacing. Suck, suck, suck. I’m pretty inexperienced, but I either hold back too much, and finish up thinking I didn’t push myself hard enough, or I go out too fast and then die by the end. I’ve worn a Garmin my last two races, and it still hasn’t helped. I have a plan for my next 5K, so I’m hoping I can make myself actually stick to it.

  44. June 30, 2010 9:34 am

    I am all geeked up on my Garmin running watch. I’ve only had it for a couple of months and only used it for one race – a 20K earlier this month. I tried to be disciplined and only look at it every half mile or so, but it helped me hover around the pace that allowed me to reach my goal time. I’ve used it to push myself and hold myself back on training runs. Makes me wonder what I ever did without it!

  45. Jenny C. permalink
    June 30, 2010 9:47 am

    I do run with a Garmin and I monitor my pace carefully in the first couple of miles. In a short race like a 5k I don’t worry too much about it – I just don’t want it to be too slow. But in a marathon that’s what I aim for. The first 3rd of the race should be like I’m not working hard at all. Then I’ll speed up for the next 3rd. That usually leaves me with gas in the tank for the final 3rd of the race and the energy to be passing everyone that went out too fast. I just ran the Seattle RnR half marathon on Sat and my plan worked perfectly. I ran the first and second mile in 9:47 and 9:43. My running partner thought it was too slow. I finished the last two miles in 8:30 and 8:51! I was only 4 seconds off a PR (I’ve done alot of half marathons in the last 13 years). I think I had at least a minute negative split. One of my running friends calls me the Negative Split Queen.

  46. June 30, 2010 9:47 am

    I am lost without my Garmin! I don’t use the pace part as much as the heart rate part. I stick to a plan (for the most part!) I finally have learned when I can gun it and not completely die. I start slowish and then get faster and faster until the point where I know I can give it everything I have. I love it!

  47. Lori Bondy permalink
    June 30, 2010 9:50 am

    I’m a newbie runner too. I started last year training for my first 8km Trail Series race which I managed to do in 48mins.
    But What is Pacing? And how do I use it? I do use a Garmin but dont really know how to use it optimally. I also tend to use my HR and then check my Pace. Adjusting accordingly if my HR is getting too high. But I look fwd to learning more about pacing by reading everyone’s comments here.

  48. June 30, 2010 9:52 am

    I train this way each week:

    1 day: speed work
    1 day: tempo work
    1 day: long runs

    I write down the pace I want to run and track it either on my treadmill (makes it easy because you can’t fudge) or with my Garmin.

    Some days I REALLY don’t want to run as fast as my plan suggests and so I either push myself or I back off some: I don’t want to hate running. If I’ve trained at a certain pace, I tell myself there’s NO WAY I can’t run that pace during a race.

    I just PR’d during a 10k and marathon and I maintained a pretty steady pace through both. It was all inner-strenght that REALLY WANTED to finish under a certain time. I believe if you’ve put the training in and can train at a certain pace, then you’re conditioned to run that pace…often times faster. Adrenaline can catch up with you and it’s really important to remember that when 9 or 10 minute miles seem (slow versus an 8 minute mile). Holding back can be what gives you enough strength to maintain a steady pace to the end.

    Speed and interval training have certainly improved my time, but I had to practice a LOT and for awhile…look at my Garmin a LOT or set the treadmill without fudging….you gotta practice what you want and feel capable to achieve it.

  49. Erin permalink
    June 30, 2010 9:58 am

    I don’t have a specific pacing strategy. However, I do manage to maintain a pretty steady pace at most races. I’ve definitely had those where I go out too fast, and I have yet to experience a negative split in any race longer than a 5K. My first couple marathons weren’t great ’cause I wasn’t trained so I burned out and struggled the last few miles. I’ve found that in longer races if I try a run a mile/walk a minute approach, I am able to maintain a pretty consistent pace throughout the race. So maybe that’s my strategy.

  50. June 30, 2010 10:32 am

    I have set up up my “virtual partner” on my Garmin for a slightly slower pace than I want to run. I try to make sure I’m with my “partner” at the start of the run and then smoking “her” by the end. It doesn’t always work out that way.

    I think my biggest problem is that I just don’t believe that slowing down in the beginning will help me get any faster in the end. I’ve heard it a hundred times, but I still feel like I should run faster when I feel really fresh and good and then just try to hang on in the end. If I slow down in the beginning, it seems like it would just slow my pace for the overall run/race. Maybe the longer I run the more I’ll believe it…..

  51. June 30, 2010 10:47 am

    What perfect timing! (Get it?) I actually attempted my first tempo run last night and felt relatively successful.
    I run with a cheapo sportswatch and only keep up with my total time. When I run with a partner, I can always estimate how far we’ve gone by “feeling it”, but for some reason when I’m running solo I’m clueless. So last night I began with 10 minutes of running so that I could sing most words (I’ll admit that this did not apply on the hills) of the songs playing on my iPod, then I followed that with 10 minutes of what I’ll refer to as breathless singing, then I ended with 10 minutes of singing every few words while running. It was my best effort at a tempo. Hopefully, I’ll find a more fool-proof method.

  52. Terzah permalink
    June 30, 2010 10:54 am

    My best pacing tool has always been another person. On the rare occasion that my husband and I run together, I can tell him (a former HS x-country runner) that I want to run this one at, say, a 9-minute pace—and he can do it!! And when I ran the NYC Marathon 5 years ago (pre-kids), I joined a pace group led by an awesome marathon mom with no tools but her own uncanny sense of timing–and it resulted in my fastest marathon time to date. But both running with my husband and running in a race with a pace group are rare these days. So I’m thinking of finally breaking down and buying a GPS tool, too.

  53. Beverly permalink
    June 30, 2010 10:57 am

    I am the new owner of a Garmin. I am also training for my third half in the fall and first marathon in Jan. I doing a combo. I use my Garmin to try to keep a steady pace on each run. I am also setting goals for each training run distance. So between the timer and the pace modes on the Garmin I am gradually reaching the goals I’ve set.

  54. June 30, 2010 11:10 am

    I’m terrible at pacing myself, especially during races. I have yet to splurge on a Garmin so I mostly go by feel, as in I feel speedy, I feel like I should slow down, I feel like I wish I hadn’t signed up for this race…

    I’ve found that it definitely helps to do a speed workout once a week, alternating tempo runs and track workouts where I can time my repeats and know exactly how fast I am running per mile. Especially in a 5K, this helps, because it builds up both my speed endurance as well as my mental attitude. Racing is so mental and if I’ve accomplished ____ mile repeats at ____ pace on the track I know during my race I can think about them and they’ll keep me going. I still start out too fast though, it’s so hard not to.

  55. Kelly permalink
    June 30, 2010 11:19 am

    It’s largely psychological for me (and maybe for you, too.) I know I have stamina, but I go harder than I should at the start, which ends up being the wrong choice –even if I overdo it by just a tad. I think it’s a Mom thing. It’s against EVERYTHING we know to do less than we know we can.

    So, even though we might hold back SOME for those opening miles, it’s just part of our instinct not to hold back TOO much.

    The trick –which I need to work on, too– is to see the big picture. The forest instead of those doggone trees.

  56. Kathy permalink
    June 30, 2010 11:54 am

    I am terrible at pacing! How I feel never matches how fast (or more often, slow) I’m actually going. I try to follow my coach’s advice to “Start easy, finish strong” and hold myself back in the beginning. Not sure if a Garmin would help – may be an excuse for a new toy.

  57. June 30, 2010 12:00 pm

    I use a pace band for 10 or more miles. It helps to keep me consistent. I wish I had a pace band for life though. I tend to go all out in the beginning and then fizzle at the end. I tell myself that I have more and I usually do but its not as much fun as going all out.
    I do know what it is I need to work on so that is half the battle, right?
    I would love to have a Garmin to beep at me when I am going too slow!!!

  58. Lyndsay S. permalink
    June 30, 2010 12:08 pm

    I think pacing is one of the hardest things for new runners to learn, especially when combined with the excitement of first races. I think it just takes experience to learn to slow down at the beginning, and it usually helps to have a few bad racing experiences to make one realize the necessity. It’s even harder for longer races, like a marathon. Pace bands help but only if you’ve chosen an appropriate time goal. The best advice I got before my first marathon was to start out very slow, and then go even slower!

  59. Judy permalink
    June 30, 2010 12:20 pm

    I am not great at pacing, but in a big race, I do great tagging along with a pace group. You have someone else to worry about the time and someone else to talk and distract you. All you have to do is hang on and let the group pull you with them. Sometimes I am hanging on for dear life.

  60. Heather permalink
    June 30, 2010 12:34 pm

    I pace myself with my fellow “mother runners”. You motivate me to all the way to the finish line.

    Typically, I like to begin my “careful weave” through the crowd until I find some “space” that I can gradually pace myself. My music is key at this point, allowing me to focus on breathing and stride althewhile keeping my thoughts upbeat. Once in a groove, I scan far ahead for another RLAM to motivate me to move further. Again, note the music again. Once I reach this fellow RLAM, I run with, pull back or pass depending upon my groove. I do this throughout the race, selecting other racers to pace to and with as I check off each water station. I find that I do speak to myself as I get to the middle of the race and end (don’t stop, breathe, you ___ miles to the end, think of the party later). I love to bust out the speed (whatever is left) towards the last half mile of the race coming in at a nice stride over the finish line.

    Then, I love to cheer on my fellow running mates as they finish too.

  61. realrellim permalink
    June 30, 2010 12:34 pm

    Usually I keep checking my Garmin to make sure I’m not going out too fast that first mile. A little fast is ok, but only a little. After that, I like to glance at it to see if I’m keeping the pace I want and to see if I can push it faster. My best races have been the ones where I see that I’m doing ok so far and still feel good, in which case I bump it up a bit.

    All that only applies if I’m feeling good. If the course is tougher than I expected or it’s not an on day, I just try to run a comfortable race and call it good.

  62. Alicia permalink
    June 30, 2010 1:15 pm

    Customize your playlist. Start with some slow songs and mark your power songs at that point when you start going downhill!

  63. Renada permalink
    June 30, 2010 1:20 pm

    I use my Garmin to keep me from going out too fast in the beginning of races, but sometimes I worry that it helps pace me too much. Before the Garmin, I would run by feel and sometimes I went too fast and then fell apart, but sometimes I exceeded my expectations. But now that I can decide ahead of time what a reasonable pace should be and then use the Garmin to keep myself in check, I wonder if I don’t short change myself. Sometimes I slow down when I look at my Garmin and see the pace because my mind is screaming “you can’t possibly keep that up” but I think I should listen more to my body, which sometimes says, “hell yeah I can keep up that pace.”

  64. June 30, 2010 1:52 pm

    I honestly don’t know how fast I’m going (or slow, in my case) until I enter it on haha But today I ran 4 miles and didn’t walk (only to turn around to watch traffic). My time was pretty much the same as when I walk. I realized that I just need to slow down (yes, even more) when I’m tired instead of walking.

    Otherwise, I know I run slow anyway, but in these past few months I’ve realized this is not high school track (not that I ran that), it’s not a sprint. If I’m going to make it without walking, then I need to slow my pace or I’ll just run out of juice.

    For me, this knowledge and thinking about it before I actually run, really helps. You don’t want to burn out 6 miles into a half marathon, right?

  65. Julie Berland permalink
    June 30, 2010 2:17 pm

    I’m a pretty consistent runner when I’m out for a run with my jogger. I stay slow and even and usually can figure on holding a pace over 3-5 miles. When I’m racing, I always start too fast and end too slow but I find that if I start slow then I just end up going slower in the end too. I don’t have a Garmin but will always check my watch at each mile and then over the next mile will do the math in my head to figure out what I should be at for the next mile. You know….8:31 first mile so plus another 8:31 equals 31 plus 31 equals 62 and then 8 plus 8 is 16 so it should be at 16:62 which is 17:02 but wait did I add the 31’s right?…it takes me a whole mile sometimes to figure out the math or at least remember the math and then when the next mile passes at 17:10 I figure out how much slower I’m going and what I need to make it up. Basically, I spend much of my running of 10ks or 5ks figure out what could easily be done with a watch that gives you splits. Oh well, passes the time.

  66. June 30, 2010 2:45 pm

    I’d love to run even splits and finish hard no matter the distance, but I rarely do that. I usually run the first mile faster than I wanted to and then hold back the next mile or two (depending on the length of the race) and then start picking it up again.

    I try to bust my gut as soon the finish line is in sight (while praying it’s not more than .3 or so miles away).

  67. Tryna permalink
    June 30, 2010 2:47 pm

    My only advice is this. My last marathon saw me smiling at the end. It was because I was forced to do the beginning much slower than usual, and had lots of extra energy at the end. Maybe get a watch that has an alarm when you go above 9:30 miles, then one you hit your second mile, since you will have extra energy, switch gears and burn rubber!

    By the way, this is just a thought, no science involved in anyway.

  68. Rho permalink
    June 30, 2010 2:52 pm

    The first time I ran a Half Marathon my training partner convinced me to go out FAST to “bank as much time as possible”. The first 10k of that Half is still the fastest I have ever run a 10k….followed by a blowup and miserable race! The second time I told my training partner to go ahead so I could go my own speed. I finished 1 minute slower than my first half but it was the most fun race I have ever run. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

  69. Tamara Suprchica permalink
    June 30, 2010 3:44 pm

    I don’t own a garmin either but I’ve learned to know my body and how I feel when I’m going too fast, specially the first few miles. So my rule of thumb is pretty much taking it slow for the 1st half of my run and then give a little more towards the end. It works every time and it makes my run more enjoyable, since I’m not competing for the gold medal 🙂

  70. Amanda permalink
    June 30, 2010 4:41 pm

    I pretty much have one speed. My mind says one thing and my body ignores it and keeps moving at it’s own pace.

  71. Erin permalink
    June 30, 2010 5:53 pm

    Honestly? I rely on my running partner. We pace each other–I make her pick it up in the last few miles and she makes me pull back in the first few. I also do all of my intervals on the dreadmill–it helps me to get a better feel for “pushing it” and holding it there.

  72. Tuba permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:11 pm

    I used to be terrible at pacing, be it at a race or just during a regular run, but I learned to do it by practicing it every time I run. I always purposefully start out a lot slower than I want to run, totally hold back for the first mile, on every single run. Then I slowly let go and finish strong. I do this for every run now. And I don’t even remember the last time I didn’t pull off a negative split race. Practice makes perfect!

  73. Jennifer Vickers permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:45 pm

    I’m not a gadget person so when I run local races, I know who runs the same pace as me and I try and keep pace with that person. Usually they don’t know I’m doing it, but I see them checking their watches or garmins. In a large race, I put myself in a slower starting wave and work my way up passing slower runners. It gives me something to do. I almost always hear runners comparing times and can figure out pretty much where I am. Also in larger races I sign up for the texting updates. My husband and friends give me updates that way. I’m in that early forties group and I can’t focus too well when running. I would need a watch as big as a brick to see it.

  74. Michaela permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:52 pm

    Tough question, and great answers from everybody! I have a Nike+ sport band that I sometimes use for races, but I know it isn’t totally accurate and I also find I get so obsessed with the timing and distance that I don’t pay attention to how I feel. I usually do my best when I line up at the start with the pace group that I’m hoping to keep up with, and then later in the race (even a mile in for a 5k) I play a game with myself and start picking off as many runners as I can. Yup, probably selfish and rude, but it is called a “race” after all, and it does feel good to pass people 🙂

  75. June 30, 2010 6:54 pm

    I just got a Garmin and I have to say that it really helps to be able to look down and see my pace in big numbers (I set the display so that shows up large) – the only improvement I think Garmin could do is deliver a mild shock to my wrist whenever I deviate from my desired pace!

    Seriously, though – it’s a challenge to stay consistent.

  76. Amber permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:57 pm

    I have pacing issues too, I guess that could come from my aversion to any scheduled kind of speed work. I have used pace bands, but sometimes it simply doesn’t matter, if I feel like I am dying, I slow down no matter what the clock says. I have found that if I follow a training plan and include some speed work for any kind of a race I am much more confident and relaxed during the race. When I am relaxed I go faster without consciously trying. I know that isn’t too helpful, maybe I need to find a new plan to follow:)

  77. Callie Berger permalink
    June 30, 2010 7:11 pm

    I don’t. I like to take the “Dimity Approach”, too! Sure wish I could though!!

  78. Angela permalink
    June 30, 2010 7:24 pm

    So far my treadmill keeps my pace. This discussion has been good though, because it makes me realize I need to get outside and challenge myself a bit more.

  79. June 30, 2010 7:30 pm

    I’m a fairly new runner so I basically just keep check with my watch (if racing) and the treadmill (ugh) when I run. I pick up the pace in a race if I feel like I am going to miss my goal time. I ran outside today (4.5 miles) and realized how much outdoor running is a better pace challenge thant he treadmill. My goal for the remainder of the year is to run outside and set my pace based on how I feel!

  80. Kathy Mickus permalink
    June 30, 2010 7:37 pm

    Whew! I struggle with this as well! For a 5K, I go hard and steady the whole race and sprint the last 800. For my 10K, I try the fast and steady for the first 2K, then level off to a comfortable pace for the next 3K. The final K I try and pick it up to a fast pace and sprint the last 400. I’m training for my first half, so I’m working on a strategy for this. Since I live in Texas, where it can be 90 by 8am, I find the treadmill helps to beat the heat and work on pacing.

  81. Rhonda permalink
    June 30, 2010 7:38 pm

    I don’t keep track of my pace at all. I talk myself through what I think my body is doing, or should be doing. Like, “too fast, calves are hurting” or “you can crawl home, you can do it” or “the sign says 30 mph but I feel like I’m flying!”

  82. June 30, 2010 7:40 pm

    I’m just getting into running again, but years ago I used to try to tune everyone else out. Figure out about what my pace should be and then kick it down one notch because everyone runs faster during a race. But now 15 years later, there is new technology. So this once-again-new runner is ordering a Garmin to help!

  83. Tricia permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:00 pm

    I love these responses and can’t decide if I now want a Garmin or if I’m convinced I need to avoid them!

    I have no, and I mean absolutely no, idea how fast I am running. While training I pick the distance and do my best and somedays I think, “oh dear, so slow,” and then enter the time and find it was super fast…other days, I’m thinking I’m a star and it was far from speedy.

    Racing complicates things b/c apparently I like to pass people until I’m too tired to do so. LOL
    Trying a pacing group for my first marathon since kids and hoping it helps.

  84. Alice permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:19 pm

    My pace is a force of habit pace. I started running in January while on maternity leave with my baby. If I wanted to run my only option was outside with a jogging stroller (and usually my dog around my hip too). Pushing a baby in a stroller kept me at a certain pace, and out of fear for her I never push myself past 80% of my ability. Now 6 months later I still run at that pace which is usually 6.9-7.2km/hr. Not the fastest pace out there but I ran my half-marathon in April in 2:48 and couldn’t have been prouder. I now find myself working on getting my pace up to 7.5km/hr thanks to my Garmin watch I got from my husband for hitting 1000km run this year (I actually hit it today and am now at 1005) but I can only do that when I don’t have the stroller, but I am hopeful to get up to higher speeds, but right now I can do a half-marathon no problem at my current speed, and not only do I feel amazing even at the end of the race but I feel like I could go on forever, and end up passing people who ran past me at the start. 🙂

  85. June 30, 2010 8:22 pm

    For the shorter races, I just use my heart rate monitor. If I go out to fast or get over-anxious, the alarm tells me my rate is too fast. That causes me to slow down my breathing and/or my pace just enough to get back in the right zone.

  86. Lindsey permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:29 pm

    I run races by finishing stronger than I started. I train this way too so I ease into the race with a slower pace and then at the halfway mark, I assess and start speeding up to the finish. I’m not the fastest runner out there, but this method has really made me strong at the end.

    It’s funny, too, but ever since I turned 30 (3 years ago), I just show up to races and trust my ability to get to the finish line. It’s like my head turned off at 30 and I can just run without thinking.

  87. June 30, 2010 8:32 pm

    My body definitely goes on auto pilot during every day runs. Whether I feel pretty good or pretty bad or somewhere in between if I just “go” I’m always at about an 8:45 pace. When I really think about pushing it or holding back I can, but I honestly don’t have that much focus.

    I used a Garmin set on “race” mode for a marathon a couple of weeks ago. It did nothing but annoy the p*ss out of me with it’s incessant beeping…. “You are :05 behind… You are :10 behind….” and by the end it was basically saying “What the heck were you thinking you slob? You are 20 minutes behind!” Yeah, well, it was a day of Hs: Hot. Humid. Hilly. And HELL to get through the race!

    So, yeah, pacing… My next marathon I am definitely going to find a pace group. But for “normal runs” or “average” races I will use my Garmin but turn off the race mode fer sher.

    As for the reader’s question, I would suggest trying to pick up the pace for mile 1 because in my experience, you can’t help but peter out a bit in the last mile so just make the first bit quicker. Sounds simple, huh?

  88. Cydnie permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:41 pm

    When I started running, I ran with the charity group Team in Training. Each week we had a track workout with repeats that got faster with each repetition. We did miles, 1200s, 800s and 400s. Sometimes a mixture of distances. They really helped build my confidence. I haven’t been able to run negative splits in a race but I’m working on it. For me it is a mental challenge.

    I did use the pacing feature on an older model Garmin and was able to keep a steady pace for a half-marathon, but the beeping did get to me by the end.

  89. Lisa permalink
    June 30, 2010 9:11 pm

    I have a Garmin, but probably don’t use it quite as it was intended. I will look down and think, “Wow, I’m really cruising,” only took look down a few minutes later to think, “Jeez, what happened to cruising.” I really wish I was better at having a consistent pace. Sometimes I can be right on, but other times I’m all over the map. There certainly is no rhyme or reason to my consistency (or lack thereof).

    I do know that when training for a marathon, slowing down is a good thing to do. While training for my first marathon, I’d get to about 10 miles and be totally wasted. A friend told me that when getting to those really long runs, you need to slow down. It really helped. I was actually able to finish some of those runs without feeling like I’d been run over by a semi.

    Sorry I can’t be of more help to Kate. I’m hoping to learn something from this one too!

  90. June 30, 2010 9:37 pm

    I totally stink at Pacing my self..I start out too fast. In a 5K my First mile is usually great, then I go into cruise control for the second mile or mile and a half, then I can USUALLY pick it up again (Not as fast as the first mile) for the last 3/4 of a mile or so… I know it isn’t the most effective, but it seems to work for me…I try to hold myself back a little bit in the beginning and make myself pick it up in the end.

  91. June 30, 2010 9:39 pm

    Pacing is a mind game. I have to listen to my head to make sure I don’t go out too fast; once I’ve got my rythmn, I can usually hold the pace by comparing myself to others around me and passing them one by one.

  92. June 30, 2010 10:05 pm

    I just ran my first marathon on Saturday and also used a pace band from races 2 remember. I like to get a pace band a couple minutes less than my goal time so I don’t panic if I’m not meeting my splits. It gives me a little cushion and makes me push a little harder. It worked and I met my goal time! I do have an unhealthy relationship with my garmin but I’m working on that as I start to feel my body’s natural paces at different levels. 🙂 For halfs I tend to just push as hard as I can and go on just how my body feels. Love reading other people’s strategies!

  93. Nicole permalink
    July 1, 2010 5:25 am

    I am HORRIBLE at pacing myself. I finally broke down and bought a Garmin just to help me with the task. Best purchase I ever made. I used the analogy in a Facebook comment previously- At the start of my runs I always feel like a Cheetah being released into the wild- until about mile 4. Then I want to be put back into my cage because I am D.O.N.E.

    My advice- get a Garmin. And maybe find a buddy who has a pace goal similar to yours so you can keep a leash on each other. Even splits work best if shooting for a specific time goal.

  94. July 1, 2010 6:01 am

    It varies. If I’m just out for a short to medium distance run I usually push myself to run a little harder than just comfortable then check my pace occassionally and at the end. For long runs I use my Garmin to stay on pace. At long races I stick w a pace group… Though the last time I did that the guy was going out fast in the beginning and I blew up and didn’t hit my goal. In the future I will listen to my body and back off if I need to. His group came in a full 10 mins before the goal time. Needless to say I was not w them.

  95. Rebecca permalink
    July 1, 2010 7:09 am

    For a 5k I warm up before the race, a short run at race pace, so I can start out fast and hold the pace the entire for me is currently 8:26 min. miles but I will get faster!! For a 10k I put myself in with people running a minute slower than my pace so I don’t go out too fast, then I can pass everyone who did go out too fast…giving me the confidence to speed up even more and sprint for the finish!

  96. Carolynn permalink
    July 1, 2010 7:32 am

    I usually think of a goal pace I want to achieve on that run and then just keep an eye on the garmin. I found the pace band to…cumbersome.

  97. Becky permalink
    July 1, 2010 8:27 am

    Start slow, pick up the pace as your legs warm up – and change the screen on the Garmin if you need to! I’ve found that I average a faster pace on longer runs because it takes me at least a mile (usually 2 or more) to really “get into” a run, so for shorter runs I try to start slower than I need to and to make the focus just on increasing my speed rather than going all-out at the beginning! I love my Garmin, but I’ve also found that I go a lot faster when I’m not looking down at the screen and worrying about my pace! Best of luck finding a strategy that works best for you!!

  98. Kathy permalink
    July 1, 2010 9:12 am

    No advice from me. I am usually only one speed….slightly quick waddle. I CAN run faster, but I have a hard time convincing myself that I can run any other speed and still finish feeling good.

    Any advice on running faster?

  99. Jill permalink
    July 1, 2010 9:31 am

    I’m pretty much a one-speed pony at this point. I used to stress sometimes about working on speed or distance or both. Unfortunately, I had some unexpected laparoscopic surgery last week (minor, but still 3 incisions in my belly!), so now I am just looking forward to getting back out there….slow and steady. I think I am going to stick with distance for a while and plan for my first half!

  100. July 1, 2010 9:34 am

    I thought that I had been controlling my pace and keeping it at a moderate level, but I recently received a Garmin and, low and behold, not so much. Even after just a week of running with the Garmin, I can tell a huge difference. I am running more consistently and, therefore, running for longer. (I’m still pretty new at this and have to take the occasional walk break.)

    It’s hard to slow myself down, but the payoff has been worth it.

  101. Csaf permalink
    July 1, 2010 10:08 am

    Well, since (1) I don’ t run with music (was mugged once in college running with my walkman (OY! I just dated myself…)), and (2) my running watch is a bare-bones Timex that makes it difficult to read splits without a magnifying glass, I guess I go mostly on feel — how are my lungs and legs are feeling. I’ve somehow managed to “train” myself over the years to recognize my pace by running solo and sans music and tuning into my body and my foot steps. I certainly didn’t intend it to happen that way — nor am I some zen-like runner all in tune with herself — it just sort of developed that way.

    But when I finally get up the guts to train for a half marathon, I think pace group will definitely be the way to go, but for me, mostly for the mental support.

  102. Carla permalink
    July 1, 2010 10:32 am

    No Garmin here — just a cheap watch from Target that I can’t even get synced up with DST, much less know if I could use it to see my splits! (I only bought it because it was pink 🙂 ). I am too competitive not to go out of the blocks too fast even though I know better. I could use a complete technique and training overhaul…

  103. July 1, 2010 12:14 pm

    I’ve killed a race, or 30, in my lifetime and it’s always because I had two speedier than should be legs in the first few miles. I firmly believe, though, you have to go through these crash-and-burn runs so that you learn. You might not learn it all the first time or even 20 times, but with each and every run and race, you learn little things from your mistakes that you carry over in your next race.

    I can tell you the only marathons where I have done very well at the end and able to keep the pace going is when I learned to slow the first part of my marathon down. I have worn pace bands, made specifically for the race (take an excel spreadsheat and place the elevations at each mile and then have it spit out exactly what your mile is for each according to what your put in for your goal time. Write down each mile’s goal time and do not stray off of this at all during the first 1/3 of the marathon and you will have more energy left at the end. Also important to fuel during properly during your race (ah remember Portland, Sarah??? :P) so you have enough nurishment in you to sustain your pace. Pace groups are really awesome, too, but watch your watch some when running with one because I’ve run with pace groups who have been way ahead and two who have been behind and had to scramble FAST to make up the time, and oh good lord, who has strength to pick up the pace a min/mile the last few miles?? Not me. I like Garmins for my everyday runs but I refuse to wear it during a marathon because I do not want to become a slave to my watch. If I’m looking at that thing 40 times/mile, then I’ve become obsessed with a finsh time and that’s a sure way to totally ruin a race. You gotta enjoy the race, take it the surroundings, listen to other runner’s conversations to distract your mind from the task at hand. Then check your watch at the mile marker and adjust your pace accordingly, if off. Eventually, when you’ve done enough races, you will get a sense of “feel” and you’ll know when you’re taking off too fast. Practice makes perfect so the best way is to do a lot of runs based on effort (a HR is probably one of the finest inventions ever!! All runs should be based on HR and not Garmin pace!). One you learn to relax and enjoy the journey, the pace will drop and each run will become easier. And you’ll have a lot more fuel in the tank for the final miles.

  104. July 1, 2010 2:46 pm

    I’m pretty much a one-speed wonder…starting and maintaining it throughout most runs give or take a few seconds. When I do a race, though, I get amped and excited and end up going out a bit too fast, which makes me huff and puff at the end…even sneaking in some walking breaks. On training runs I never have to do that. So annoying. I have my Nike+ but it is too annoying to try and listen or look for my pace so I just go by how I feel. My next race is on Sunday and I’m determined to ignore the excitement at the starting line!!

  105. July 1, 2010 6:44 pm

    I have no idea about pace. I have a Nike plus which gives me some kind of idea. If I run faster or longer than I have in the past, some athlete guy comes on and tells me I did a good job. Last time was Lance Armstrong. I thought that was pretty cool.

    Seriously, for right now, I’m just trying to run for longer periods of time, pace be damned. I impress myself everytime I make it through those 30-40 minutes without stopping.

  106. Kerry permalink
    July 1, 2010 7:19 pm

    Get old…no really, it takes my body much longer to get moving, especially on two feet (rowing on my butt is still never a problem), so I’ve slowed down and and am now trying to figure out how to not run too fast in the middle miles. 🙂

    I also think it really has to feel easy, really easy, if you are doing the right pace at the beginning. So I really try and enjoy myself during the first few miles, warming up the old bones, letting folks go by, and knowing in the back of my mind “you are MINE” at mile 2, 5, 10 or whatever.

  107. Meghan permalink
    July 2, 2010 9:24 am

    I ALWAYS start out fast, because it’s a a lot easier than trying to pick up the pace halfway through a race. Sometimes I regret it, but usually by the time I settle into my goal pace, the race is well underway and I’m ahead of my time a bit. It’s easier to push it at the end when you’re feeling crappy, since you know you’re almost done.

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