How to learn pacing

I'm sure I wont be the only person with this problem. In races I can be guilty of going off at the wrong pace either too slowly or, more probably, far too fast and then running out of steam half way round.

I did a race at the weekend and changed tactic. For the first half of the race I sat on the shoulder of someone who is a similar pace as me but has more consistent pacing for the first five miles and then kicked on at my own pace once I'd passed half way. It's probably one of the best races I've ran because the pacing at the start was right. 

However the pacing was only right because I was copying someone else. How do I learn how to pace myself? When I set off too fast it's not until the damage is done halfway round that I realise I probably went too hard at the start.


    Learning to run at the right pace is probably one of the hardest parts of racing.   Some folk rely on setting an alert on their GPS watch but that doesn't teach them to pace correctly as you need to recognise perceived effort to pace.

    I do check each mile split on my GPS as I'm racing and then adjust my pace accordingly, usually that means to slow down in the early stages, it's the commonest fault setting off too fast.  

    You will get better with practise so lots more racing
  • DD92DD92 ✭✭
    Yeah I tried doing the GPS thing but where I live the elevation is so varied in each race it's difficult to set the correct pace. 

    It's just a case of learning how much effort is too much effort. I've considered heart rate but don't know much about this at all or how effective it is.
    DD92 - heart rate training is very accurate and you could certainly pace a race very well but training by heart rate and getting familiar with it is quite involved.

    In hilly races you will just have to learn by experience and training over similar routes. It's the same for most of the other runners too.
  • kmo86kmo86 ✭✭✭
    An app on your phone telling you how far you have ran and how long it took would be best way. Then you can set yourself target times for each distance based on how well you manage. 

    If you can’t get GPS to work only other way could be timing how long it takes you to reach certain places on runs and adjust speed based on how your feeling and keep doing same route to get used to speed you are aiming to get.
  • tfktfk ✭✭✭
    depends on your level and depends on what you might mean by 'keeping to the pace'. HR and GPS strategies work. probably the key thing is,broadly, the first minute a the first 10 minutes where different energy systems may well kick in if you haven't properly warmed up. if you've properly warmed up then i'd check your pace fairly actively in the first minute and make a conscious effort to not copy the kids who always fly off too quickly.
  • Heart rate training is the best way to learn about pacing and with practice you will eventually know your body well enough to pace yourself without any external data. With a HR monitor you can train within specific HR zones, which relate to different effort levels. You can then translate this knowledge into the race setting when it comes to it.

    In the absence of anything like that, the best thing is just to be safe rather than sorry - ignore everyone around you at the start of a race, focus on yourself and run maybe even slower than feels natural. You can always pick up the pace if you're feeling good, but expending too much energy at the start is pretty much irreversible.
  • Hold onto the pace groups as long as you can and  just hope for the best.  It is better to go with a slower pace group in a marathon and not push too hard. It easier to run a negative or even split marathon by going with a pace group that is not too challenging.
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