Pacing Myself

Just wanted to get some more expert opinions on pacing myself in the Great North Run. I have no previous race experience but training has been going OK and I believe I can run it sub 2 hours if I don't ruin my efforts by setting off too quick.

My best training runs have been a 6.5 miler at 7.55 pace which left me knackered, (would have struggled to sustain the effort any longer) and a 10.6 miler in 1hour 31mins - think the average pace was about 8.38.

Should I set off and try and run bang on 9 minute pace or slightly under throughout, trying to run the last mile quicker if I have anything left or do I try and run it at 8.30/8.40 pace, giving myself a chance of a low 1.50s time but risking tiring and slowish up at the finish?

Any views much appreciated?




  • How did you feel on the 10 miler? Was it comfortable or hard work?

  • What is the elevation profile of the course? - I have not done the GNR.  A constant pace is generally the most economical and sensible  way to run for a first timer, but if it is undulating or even hilly, then I would look for a constant effort. This will need some knowledge of the route, so you know when to push and, on when to back off.

    If you are going to try for 1:50, personally I would run the first half fairly conservatively, and then push on in the second half dependent on how you feeling. Of course, if your training suggests otherwise, then go for it.

  • Dacning in spikes, it wasn't a very hilly 10,6 miles but I wasn't flat out and ran my last mile the quickest. (about 8.15)

    Also-ran, the course looks undulating. I live in Calderdale and I think some of my training runs have had steeper (albeit shorter) hills than appear to exist in the GNR. That said, it doesn't look hilly on paper but folks who have run it have said otherwise!

    Just done a hilly 7.53 in 64.59 this morning (which is 15 minutes faster than I ran it in April) Was hard work though.

  • My advice to the GNR is start off at the back, regardless of your number. When I did I was in the last 20 or so to cross the start line around 45 minutes after the start. I found that it was quite open and could enjoy the run, where as a few people who I know started much closer to the front said it was hard going for the first few miles (seven seems to ring a bell with me) as it was so congested.

  • Hey that is interesting, Chris.

    I have been allotted Orange Zone D, but it looks like I can start further back if I want to.



    Sounds like pace wise you are very similar to where I was when I did my first half a while back. Everything went right for me on the day. My eating plans worked out right, I felt great on the startline and I was nearish the front so got a good clean run. I threw my plan out of the window and ran as I felt on the day. Averaged about 7:45 over the first 3 miles and then backed off a little and ran steady to the end for a 1:46.xx

    I even had something left in the tank at the end, which is not to say it wasn't tough, it was. 

    If you feel good and the luck goes your way (you don't get held up too much etc) I think you can run a good time.



  • It wasn't something pre-planned but did by accident tell you truth. As they are pens that you are in everybody wants to get a close to the start as possible, but in reality it doesn't matter as it is chipped. My wife said he will be peeing like a race horse before the start and wanted to be close to the toilets and not wanting to need a pee stuck in the middle of a pen.

    People told me it was hilly but apart from a couple of slip roads I thought it was quite flat, suppose it is what your used to. But the crowd is fabulous and the atmosphere is second to none and can probalby shave off 5-10 minutes by it self.

  • Cheers Padders, 1.46 sounds impossbile to me, but if the weather isn't too hot and the preparation goes absotuely ideally and I get a clear run through the race then who knows? I will be delighted with anything below 1.55 and disappointed with anything over 2 hours.

    Thanks Chris, I might not start right at the back as it looks like the last runners set off quite late and I have done the bulk of my training in the mornings and it seems to suit me better. Hopefully I won't be cursing myself for not doing so in the early miles.


  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭
    MTV - the course is net downhill but there are a few undulations. There is a hill at mile 11ish, which is a bit of a pull. Once at the bottom of this you hit the flat and it remains so to the end. I wouldn't class it as hilly at all.

    Also, I would start at the front of your allocated pen. Starting at the back means you'll be trying to pass people who have no plans of running whatsoever. There are always those thick and annoying people who sneak into faster pens then are walking within the first mile but you just run around them. Use the crowds in the first few miles up keep your pace in check - they are downhill so it's easy to go off too fast.

    Good luck!
  • Minni, how do I get to the front of my pen? Turn up early?

    Sorry if that sounds a daft question.


  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭
    Yes. Get into it and work your way to the front. I usually see the wheelchairs go off, then the elite ladies then go to my pen. Don't go for a last minute pee in the portaloos - I did that last year and when I got to my pen it had closed (20 minutes before the start). I had a heated argument with a yellow coat then had to jump the barrier!
  • When I did mine I'd just spent six months running various distances, completely unstructured, because I enjoyed running. As such I'd done a few runs of 13 or more  before my half. Out of the 6 or 7 runs of that distance i'd done i'd never gone under 2:05. 

    What made the difference for me was

    a) doing a couple of 10ks in the 6 weeks before hand. I ran hard in the 10ks and it gave me the confidence to up my pace in some of my normal runs and especially when it came to the half.

    b)it was a race and as such I was prepared to push myself harder than I ever would just out running.

    I think you'll suprise yourself. Good luck and have fun! image





  • That's interesting Padders, my worry was that being in an actual race might cause me to try and go too quick for my own good but looking at it positively I might be able to draw some inspiration from the crowds and the atmosphere to push me through tiredness.

    I have a 1.57 training run at the distance but it was a particularly easy route, half a mile downhill and the rest on a virtually totally flat canal.  Have certainly been running better times since then over my shorter routes. I am certainly looking forward to it, in fact I wish it was next week!


  • MTViking

    I am relatively new to races. One of the things I am becoming accustomed to is that I find running at pace easier in a race situation that on a training run.The buzz of the day, the adrenaline etc really affect my performance. The flip side of course is that you can get carried away.

    I would take some confidence from the 1.57, add to that the 'race day magic' and your sensible pacing for the time you want, and I am sure you will achieve what you set out. 

  • One thing I have found from my training is that I tend to run comfortably at 8.15 to 8.30 when going downhill so there is probably no point in trying to keep myself to an even pace throughout as I don't think I would save much energy going downhill at 9.00 pace. Will probably try and run 8.45-8.50 pace for the first 10 miles or so and see how I feel from then on.

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