QT: Be Patient If (When?) You Fall Off Your Pace

Whether you’re a math person or not, you can’t deny that numbers are a big part of our sport.

Distances. Paces. Splits.

And when it comes to goals, they are often number-focused as well.

PRs. Mileage targets. A number of races.

Chasing Your Numbers Goals

When it comes to these number-focused goals, we have a tendency to break them down into chunks.

For a race you’re trying to PR, you probably know what your average pace per mile needs to be.

If you’re trying to hit a mileage target, you know how many miles you need to average per day or week or month.

This is a helpful method of attacking any big goal: give yourself some checkpoints along the way.

But what happens when the numbers aren’t perfect?

When you fall behind the pace, how do you react?

My advice? Especially when you fall behind early?

Be patient.

Resist the Urge of Perfection

There’s nothing wrong with trying to hit every checkpoint in the pursuit of your goal.

The fact is, falling behind your pace is seldom the ideal scenario.

But it does happen.

Probably more often than most of us would prefer.

So what do you do when the almost inevitable happens?

How to Respond

Where you are when you fall behind matters.

If you’re closing in on the finish line, then doing whatever you can to get back on track makes sense.

But when it’s still early days?

There's No Short Cut to Becoming More Patient

Because when you’re still early on, you’ve got time to catch up.

And when you have time to play catch up, it doesn’t take that much extra effort to get back on pace.

A Couple of Examples

In some cases, my proclivity for patience gets me in trouble.

It's True

But every once in a while, it serves me well.


When I ran the Celebration half marathon a couple of weeks ago, my goal was to PR.

In order to do so, I knew I needed to average an 8 minute pace.

I ran my first mile in 8:35.

Not an ideal start? Maybe.

But it was far from detrimental.

I was still settling into the race and I still had 12+ miles to go.

Instead of dropping the hammer and trying to run mile two in 7:30, I just kept cruising and clocked an 8-minute mile for mile two.

I stayed on script, settled in, and kept grinding for the last 11+ miles ending with a big PR.

Run the Year:

For the third year in a row, one of my goals is to run the year.

Maybe, but whatever.

This year, I’m off to a bit of a slow start and am definitely behind the necessary daily mileage pace to hit 2022 miles by the end of the year.

But it’s fine.

With 10.5 months to go, I’m about 50 miles behind pace.

So, basically nothing.

Could I push myself a bit more over the next month or so and catch up?

No doubt about it.

But why?

If I stay patient and just chip away at my early deficit month by month, I wouldn’t be shocked if I’ve wrapped up my miles by the start of December.

Make Smart Choices

Ultimately, there is no perfect “rule” to follow when you fall behind the pace.

Sometimes catching up quickly is the right choice.

Other times, it’s best to stay patient and just chip away over time.

The best “rule” is to think before you act and make smart choices based on the specifics of the scenario.

So maybe the one true rule is to be patient when deciding which choice is the right choice for you.

When you fall off your goal pace, be patient as you work to catch up. #runchat Share on X

How Do You React When You Fall Off Your Pace?

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