Pacing isn't just about finishing at the correct time...
The Art of Pacing by Claire Senior
When I first started out as a pacer, I naively thought that it was simply going to be a fun, slower-paced run. After all, all that was required from me was to make sure I crossed the finish line as close to the target time as possible, right? Wrong.
There are many pacers out there who are brilliant at crossing the finish line at the perfect time, but are poor pacers.
When pacing others, your role is to act as a consistent visual goal post throughout the race to allow other runners to monitor their progress. That requires running at a constant pace from the start. As such, you must keep checking your watch!
When you run as a pacer, you will be running much slower than normal. The biggest downfall is setting off too fast, and can cost your followers their PB. Your followers will keep up with you, but will struggle in the second half of the race and end up going slower than they would if they ran at a consistent steadier pace from the start.
That being said, there are some slight variations that you can use, but you must be really careful to gauge it accurately. If you are running a short race (5km or slower), then starting slightly faster (just 3%!) than your target pace is an advantage when aiming for a PB. However, for longer races, such as a marathon, the advice is the complete opposite. Start steadily and 3% slower than the target pace to avoid burning all your glycogen stores too quickly, so as not to “hit the wall”.
So, after years of practise, here are the four key steps to pacing.
And thank you Claire for sharing your story with us.
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