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How to Find a Good Running Pace (i.e. One you can sustain or race!)

Do you start races like a rocket ship to the moon and then find yourself falling out of the sky before you’ve made landing?

Or you need to check your watch with every mile to have any idea if you’re going too fast, too slow, wildly off pace, nailing the goal?

Time to learn how to pace yourself, a big part of that is letting go of the idea that there is one good running pace. It changes based on where you are in training, but learning to go by feel is HUGE.

He took refuge in the concept that sometimes
slowest is the fastest in the end.

You can either watch the following video with my top pacing tips to see them in action or read all about it below! Let me know what you find most helpful so that I can keep creating what works best for you.

Top Tips for a Better Running Pace

First let’s talk about what is a steady running pace? It’s what you want to do for most easy runs and even most of your long runs. The goal is to learn how to settle in to a specific pace and run it from start to finish.

On easy days this pace needs to be slow enough not to cause your HR to spike the longer that you run. While on long runs, as noted above, we’re dialing in to the pace you can hold from start to finish, so as not to flame out.

How do I calculate my pace?
Any more your running watch or the treadmill are going to tell you your pace per mile and your overall average pace for the run. But if you need to calculate it on your own, take your total distance in miles  divided by the total run time to find your per mile.

What is my training pace?
Ahh now here is where things get tricky. You’ve set a race goal, which means you have a goal pace, but it’s important to remember that’s where you are going, not where you are. Plan to work towards that pace slowly over the months of training.

There are a TON of different training pace calculators out there to help you figure this out, but again remember they are guides and not tailored to where you are right now. They also depend on the type of training you’ll be doing. For example, Hansons maybe faster, while LHR doesn’t look at pace at all.

Control the Need for Speed

Step 1: Stop going out too fast and stop trying to speed up later! It’s better to be consistent.

Depending upon distance, pace and effort will change, but the ideal for each run is to start with the first mile being the slowest as your body warms up and adapts to the movement. This is why a longer warm-up is recommended for shorter races (i.e. running a few miles before a 5K and just a few strides before a marathon).good running pace

Studies have shown that the negative split is LESS likely to produce PR’s than running a consistent pace throughout the race.

In order to do that one must spend a little more time practicing tuning in to the body during training and learning how different paces feel.

First this helps with goal setting and second, it leads you away from the watch. Additionally, once you begin running by feel, it becomes easier to back off on planned hard days and push on planned easy days because you can trust your body. 6 ways to learn to pace yourself while running outside

Now that we’ve busted the myth of the negative split on race day, let’s look at how you can practice finding your average running pace to help you come up with a realistic marathon time predictor or simply prevent hitting the wall.

Pay Attention to Your Body

Turn off the music and head out on at least one solo run per week.

Without distractions, you’re forced to pay attention to how the run feels…yes I know this might actually remind you that running is hard. Begin rating each run with the Perceived Exertion scale of 1-10 with 10 being a full out sprint. Track your RPE along with the final pace on your watch to begin making that correlation while you run.

A more relaxed approach {and my preferred method} is to be aware of your breathing, your legs and overall feeling. Note if it changes throughout the run because you’ve started too quickly and use it to help you slow down when your goal is to add mileage.

Heart Rate Training

New runners often note that every run feels hard, so perceived exertion may be too hard to subjectively judge. Focusing on on heart rate instead, can help provide a solid number to track that is not pace. {Remember we want you to tap in to your body, not your stopwatch.}

This isn’t the same as training in heart rate zones or even low heart rate training. It’s simply a tool for monitoring to help you become more in touch with how different paces feel.How to Pace a Run

Treadmill Running

It might not be your cup of tea, but treadmill runs help teach you what maintaining a specific pace feels like.

By setting the pace and then following it for a duration, you’ll notice quickly if you’ve been striving for a pace that’s too fast overall, maybe too slow or that being consistent feels different from your normal vacillating pace outside. Too keep the boredom at bay, play with the incline and after each mile do a full body scan to begin creating muscle memory around the pace.

More tips on hitting your PR using the treadmill >>

Add a Metronome

The ideal stride is to reach 180 footfalls per minute for optimal foot turnover {best pace, least time on the ground for injury}. As you learn this system, you’ll begin to run more efficiently and again it takes the focus away from pace, giving you another measurement for gauging your run.  iFit has a great metronome app you can download to use on your phone or try this clip on.

Once you’ve gotten in to a rhythm with this you can simply check in on it occasionally. Your 180 footfall will remain the same regardless of your running pace.

An easy way to check is as follows:

  • Count your right footfalls for 10 seconds
  • You want 15
  • Which doing the math would take you to 180 per minute

Set your mind, not your watch

On any given day a run can feel harder or easier based on training, nutrition, weather and life. By looking solely at the watch a run could quickly be deemed good or bad, but learning to run by feel means you have the ability to adjust training.

Studies have also shown that often our perceived idea of how a run will feel impacts the entire body. Spend a few minutes before each run {during that dynamic warm up} getting your mind right for either the intensity of a speed workout or the duration of a long run. Remind yourself that you can lean in to discomfort to help your body change and that you can do anything for an hour.How to pace yourself while running

Setting expectations about the run and tying those in to the feel of each pace ensures that on race day your able to keep pushing when others might pull back because you know where the discomfort lies and that you can pass it.

Set your mind, not your watch and other tips to learn pacing #Runchat Click To Tweet

Race Pace Workouts

One of the lessons I took away from Brain Training for Runner’s was to incorporate far more race pace miles in my training. Looking back at most marathon training plans I noticed that most runs were faster {tempo} or much slower {long easy runs} than my goal pace. How on Earth are we supposed to maintain a pace that we haven’t practiced?

During the mid to later portion of a training cycle begin adding a few race pace miles to workouts during the week and then start adding more to every other weekly long run.

Any other tricks you’ve learned to help with pacing?

Are you a steady pacer?

Other ways to connect with Amanda
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Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

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