I was set thinking about pacing after reading an excellent article by Julian Nagi entitled Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, the article mentions Mark Allen’s key principals one of which is “embrace your inner tortoise” and go at your own pace.
Now for me pacing and judging of the right pace for the right occasion is something I still find tricky, I have certainly got better at it over the last 12 months but I still need to work on it.
For example, whenever I am set a 5km running time trial to test progress, I think every time I have done it I have run the first kilometre too fast. I have used several excuses for this, most recently that I mis-read the pacing on my watch and this led me to running 30 seconds faster than I wanted!
Previously, when I ran with a group of friends regularly the pace was generally decided by the strongest runners who seems to set it at whatever they felt like on the day. Often I was guilty of being one of the pace setters but equally I also have been out with groups where I was basically hanging on for dear life.
In both of these examples, the common thing is that it is not a healthy way to run, why should my pace be the same as your s on a given day? Yes you can all agree to run at a set pace, but lets face it, that doesn’t generally last too long, especially if the pace is designed to be slow.
Furthermore, for me, this situation is further complicated if I following a particular plan which relies on running at set heart rates as on these days I need to be selfish and stick to the rates, else there is no point in the session, prime example being zone 1 running, its no good saying you are going to do a zone 1 set, and then go and run a threshold session just because your pals are doing one.
More often than not now I tend to run on my own because I can do exactly what I want to do, this helps me no end as I can run pressure free doing whatever I need to. Occasionally my wife will come out with me if I am doing a zone 1 run as for her the pace is one which she can use as a tempo run.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to run with friends from time to time, but if I am going to do this then it needs to be on a day when I want to run without restraint.
IF you take nothing else from this, then I would say do not worry about running at your own pace, after all when it comes to it, in a race situation you will go at your own pace and if you haven’t trained at it then you might struggle.
Be brave, embrace your inner tortoise and go at your own pace.