QT: Monitoring Your Race Pace is More Art Than Science


Whatever distance you are racing on any particular day, if you have a time based goal you probably have an idea of what your race pace needs to be in order to achieve said goal.

Knowing your race pace, and nailing it during your race, are two completely different things however.

No Shit Sherlock

Rarely, if ever, are you going to run a perfectly even race where you hit every mile split on the dot every time.

And when you take into account curves/corners on the course, other runners, changes in elevation, water stops, etc., trying to hit most of your splits spot on is an exercise in futility.

So what you are you supposed to do in order make sure you nail your time goal for the day? 

Find the Right Pace for You on Race Day

Look, I’m not going to tell you is to stop making time goals for races. I’m very time driven, and it would be just a little too hypocritical of me to say that you should run every race for funzies and never worry about your race pace or a time goal again.

Can't Do It

Instead, what I would encourage you to do is to have your time goal in place leading up to the race and know what your race pace for that goal needs to be.

During the race, however, don’t focus on the second by second pace on your watch.

Don’t set an alarm to beep every time you’re more than a few seconds above or below your intended race pace, and for the love of God please don’t run the majority of your race looking down at your wrist!

Glance at your watch sporadically, just to make sure that your race pace is in the area that it needs to be in order to hit your goal, but don’t worry about speeding up/slowing down every time you look at your watch because you’re a few seconds off pace one way or the other.

You are going to have some pace fluctuations in pace over the course of a race, allow them to happen.

Listen to Your Body, Not Your Watch

Monitor Your Race Pace Internally

Is Your Body Trying to Tell You Something?

More important than what your watch is saying, however, is what your body is trying to tell you.

Learn to “listen” to the cues your body is trying to give you during a race.

If you’re running too fast for what you can handle, your body will slow you down slightly.

If you’re feeling fantastic, you’ll naturally speed up a little bit.

Force yourself to stop relying on external feedback all of the time (your watch) and start relying on your internal feedback more frequently and you might be surprised and how much easier your race feels and how much easier it is to maintain your proper race pace from start to finish.

Just Getting Started…

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about pacing in general in the past few weeks, so this is only the beginning when it comes to race pace.

In next week’s quick tip, I’ll talk about how to improve your pace if that’s something you’re working on.

And after that, I’ll cover the age old race day dilemma regarding pace: how to keep from going out too fast and then blowing up!

So stay tuned, it’s going to be an interesting ride!


Don't be a slave to your watch when it comes to monitoring your race pace! #marathon #halfmarathon… Click To Tweet

Are You a Bit of a Control Freak? What is One Area of Your Running that You Need to Work on Relinquishing Control?

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