Learning to pace yourself while running is one of the hardest skills to master. It’s taken me years to get to the point where I am actually pretty consistent with my pacing. Trouble staying at an even pace is one of the biggest gripes of many racers–we either start out too fast or (more preferably) negative split the race!
How to Work on Your Pacing
Running based on your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
On a scale of 1-10 what does your current effort feel like? A RPE of 1 would be an easy run and a 10 would be like “I feel like I’m going to die.” Running based on perceived effort can really help tune your body into racing based on how you feel. It helps you to be better in sync with your body’s physiology. The other thing I really like about assessing your pace by RPE is that it can help you in less than ideal racing conditions.
For example, many people fail to account for heat and humidity in a race and continue to push for a certain “race pace.” You are MUCH better off racing based on your RPE. This will help keep you in a physically safe (and probably mentally too!) zone. You will learn to focus less on your watch and much more on your body’s internal clock.
Using a treadmill
Although many people loathe running on the treadmill, it can really help you get a sense of what it feels like to run at a certain pace. Having the ability to preset a pace and hold it will help your body “learn” that pace. Try running both easy and hard runs or speed workouts on the treadmill to get a sense of what those different paces feel like.
Practice Running Time Trials
Running a shorter distance (i.e. 10-miler if you are doing a half marathon) weeks out at your goal half marathon pace will give your body a preview of what race pace feels like. Being familiar with the pace and its associated feeling will make you more confident on race day.
Run Warm-up Strides
Similar to the above method, running strides at race pace shortly before the start will help your body to “remember” what race pace feels like.
Do you have any tips for learning to pace yourself?