Beginning runners fall into two different categories when it comes to pacing. The first is that group who goes right for a fast pace, who takes off at the beginning of a run at a pace they are not going to maintain.
The second group are those who are good at finding a pace they can maintain, so much so that their speed never improves because they get stuck in that “comfort zone.”
Know Your Tendencies
In order to correct our pacing, we need to know what we’re already doing. To get a sense of this, grab your phone, watch, or a stopwatch, and simply measure some stats on your next run.
If you’re using a smart phone, apps like Strava or Map My Run will track your splits for you. And if you’re using your watch or a stopwatch, track your splits by just measuring how long it takes you to run half or a quarter of your total run distance.
Change Your Terrain
In order to perfect our pacing, we need to introduce our bodies to different paces and step out of our running comfort zone.
A natural way to do this is to change the terrain or course you’re running. If you normally run on a track or a flat road, find a trail to add some hills. If you always run the same trail, find a new one.
This will inevitably introduce your body to different speeds at different points in your run, due to varying levels of difficulty at different spots.
Another easy way to do this is interval running. No matter your course, try pushing your pace and running quickly for 60 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of easy jogging, for 10 rounds. This will show your body what it feels like to run faster or slower, as opposed to that one speed you’re used to.
Stick To A Training Plan
We love training plans because they get you thinking in the long term, and they hold you accountable.
Pacing work will only help your overall run speed if it’s kept up over time, so try to make or find a training plan that will hold you accountable for your runs and workouts so that you see the results of your efforts.
Without a proper running training plan, you’ll just be basing whether or not you run that day on how you feel, which can be a slippery slope on both ends. If it’s a day you should be training but you’re tired or sore, you might skip it without a training plan.
And on the other side of the spectrum, if you’re feeling good on a day that should be your rest day, you might not take a rest day that week, which impedes recovery.
Find a training plan that works for you! From there, take note of your pacing tendencies and vary your running terrain to get your body comfortable at different speeds, so that come race day, you control how fast you run given what the course requires!