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Getting Your Pace Right

Having been an official Pacer for the last 5 years I am often asked “how do you get your pace right”? I have not always been good at pacing myself, and spent many years throwing myself into races with no idea how to pace myself. I have learnt more through my own mistakes, and want to share some of my experiences and stories in the hope this will help you pace yourself.

This is not a blog about being a Pacer, and is merely my advice, and I’m not qualified to give advice, but here it goes anyway…

Learn from your mistakes:

It is ok to make mistakes, and to be honest you learn from these much more than hearing from other people. But I have probably made most of the common mistakes in the past, so hopefully hearing about my experiences can help you avoid some of them. This picture is me after Brighton Marathon in 2013. I made numerous mistakes during this race, below I will list them and a few more bits of advice.

Don’t go off too fast

This is one of the most common mistakes people make, especially when trying for a PB or going for a longer distance. The longer the event the easier it is to go off too fast. It’s like the tortoise and the hare fable, and I think everyone is guilty of doing this, at least once.

It’s simple when you think about it, and if you think about it like this you are less likely to make this mistake. You can’t sprint a marathon. Just like you wouldn’t pace yourself on a hundred metre sprint, you would go all out. So, whatever the distance you are running make sure you set off at the desired pace.

Naturally the further you are running the easier the pace will feel at the beginning, as you will not be pushing yourself as hard as you can. Just remember the distance you have to travel and remember you are slowing yourself down for a reason. If you go too hard at the beginning you will most definitely end up burning out, which can be known as hitting the wall. This is when you deplete your glycogen stores, and staying within your aerobic threshold (by controlling your pace) is one way to avoid this.

It is easy to go off too fast in the excitement of the start line, running alongside those faster than you, or those also going off too fast. You may get away with it for a short distance, but if you go off too fast you will most likely suffer later on. By controlling your pace you will have a much more enjoyable experience.

Know your pace

It is so important to know your target to set your pace. Some people get very secretive around their target time, and many claim that they don’t have a target, they “just want to finish”. Now regardless of your time, there is nothing wrong with “just finishing”. I would however argue that it is important to have an idea of your target to understand your capabilities.

If you set off with no idea about your pace you are making it much harder for yourself. Don’t be fooled that a relaxed approach, and not caring about the time will make it easier. If you just set off running and don’t have an idea about pace you will not get the most out of the run. You are more likely to push too fast early on and slow down later on, and that is much harder than keeping a steady pace.

Practice desired pace

It may sound pretty obvious, but once you have an idea of your target time, and know what pace you want to run, then practice. If you know your pace it will be easier to stick to it, and your body will get used to it.

Your body will adapt and get used to a pace, and as you improve you will find it easier. It may be that at this point it’s time to increase your pace, but by feeling confident at a pace for a shorter period it will be easier to keep to it for a longer distance.

Stick to your Pace

There are a couple of points to make here. First of all the obvious; consistent pacing. I am a fan of an even split, this is always what I try to do when pacing. Keeping a steady pace is the best way, in my opinion, to achieve your very best time. You can deploy a kick at the end when you know there is not much left to do to get a slight negative split.

Some argue that a negative split, running the second half faster than the first, is the best way. Apart from the sprint finish I’m not sold on this. I always believe with this approach you may have sacrificed time at the beginning.

An approach I strongly recommend avoiding is the positive split. This is what many of us have done, and what I have done numerous times. This is where you go harder at the beginning hoping to “Bank” some time for the end. To be honest if you get this perfect and pull it off you may just well get a PB, as you will be pushing to your limit. However more often than not you will end up tiring before the end and watch those extra few minutes at the start that you “banked” disappear.

I am yet to achieve a sub 3 marathon. I’ve not tried for years now, but when I was in the shape to achieve this, my pacing was terrible. I went out too hard, I tired, and then when I knew my target had drifted away I just gave up and slowed. Brighton 2013, Berlin 2014 and Paris 2015 were my serious attempts, and each time I failed to stick to my pace. In London 2013 I got my PB by sticking to the plan. In the other attempts I was on for a considerably better time, I just went too fast, I got cocky, I messed up my pace.

The second point I want to make about sticking to your pace is about your intent when going into the race. Ask yourself, what is your target? I’ve had many people tell me they want X time, so they will start off at X – 15. This is not logical. What is your target, if it is sub4 for example, run at a pace that will get you in at 3:59. Don’t run at a pace that will get you in at 3:45, as if you haven’t trained for this it is very unlikely to happen and will not end well. Trust me, I’ve been there. If however your training goes well and you think you can achieve more, then adjust your target.

Don’t set off faster than you think you can achieve, but if you think you can achieve more then be confident and go and do it. Disguising your target with a slower one is not a great strategy as you will not pace correctly but also you are not being confident. Your mind will give up before your body does, so staying confident that you can achieve your goal will keep your mind going for longer.

Train fast

Although it is important to practice your target pace, I am a strong believer of shorter faster runs in training. Whatever your pace, train faster, this will make it easier on the day. When your body adapts to running at a faster pace, you improve, then you can run faster. As you get used to running at a higher intensity, the lower intensity will become relatively easier. When training for a PB I always like to do a couple of speed sessions a week to push improvements and to ensure that my target pace feels more comfortable. A parkrun, or quick short distance max effort run, or intervals are good for speed training. But don’t always train fast, give your body plenty of time to recover with steady runs.

Run with a Pacer

Now of course I was going to mention following a Pacer. I must admit that it may not be for everyone, as some people just want to do their own thing. However the whole idea of following a Pacer is that they will run at a consistent pace, and this will allow you to take your mind off it. A good Pacer will do more than just keep you at a steady pace. They will keep you motivated throughout your run. Also, those running around you will be aiming for a similar sort of time, so you can surround yourself with people all striving to achieve the same time, and you can support and motivate each other.

It’s been said before, so will I will throw this out there… NO following a Pacer is not cheating. We do not carry you, we do not do any of the running

for you. YOU will have to put all the effort in still, and it is you and you alone that will achieve the time. Whether you use the Pacer as a guide, for a bit of motivation, or to take your mind off things, they are there to help. I try to have a bit of fun as I find m

aking running enjoyable makes it feel easier, subtle distraction techniques I use help people get to the end of the event without as much perceived effort.

Be prepared

Getting your Pace right will have a lot to do with preparation. When you have all the above sorted, you have trained for it and you deploy a good pacing strategy, don’t forget all the other variables. Think about your fuelling strategy; stay hydrated; know the course and know if you want to slow on the big hills or keep going at the same speed.

Don’t get carried away

So everything is going well, you have prepared well, you are pacing well… don’t get carried away. This all depends on the distance you are running, but the further you go the easier it will be to get carried away. Remember how far you have to go, and only push harder when you know you can get to the end at that pace. The last thing you want to do is throw it all away when you get towards the end. I’ve been there personally, and I see it so often when pacing. There are those that start with a Pacer, and those that keep ahead of us. Then there are those that go harder, get carried and I pick them up along the way. There is no better feeling than giving someone a tap on the shoulder and giving them the boost they need to keep going. But this can all be avoided if you don’t get too carried away.

How do I know the right pace?

I often get asked how you know what the right pace is. This is a really tricky one, and only you know what pace your are capable of. If you have been training for a target time then you should know the correct pace for you, but this can change during training as you make progress, and you will feel this. You should always feel like you are nearing your limit, unless of course you are training and not pushing yourself to hit the best time you can. I have a pretty simple rule of thumb to judge your pace.

Ask yourself one question, can I hold this pace until the end?

If the answer is yes, you can probably afford to pick up the Pace a little more. If the answer is no then you should ease back to avoid burning out. If the answer is maybe, maybe… well you are probably at the right pace. When pushing yourself to your limit there will always be an element of doubt, but you are more capable than you believe. Your mind will always give up before your body (except for injury) so when your body is screaming at you to stop, believe you can keep going. You need to listen to your body and understand the difference between an injury and a tired body. If your body is telling you that you are tired and need to drop the pace then stay strong and fight the mental battle. If you are mentally strong you can take your body beyond what you think is capable.

Believe in yourself.

You can follow all of Paul’s blog here: https://pickupthepacepaul.com/

Facebook: @pickupthepacepaul

Twitter: paul_addicott

#RunAsOne #RunReigate2019

Run Reigate Half Marathon 10k 5k Races

Latest Event Update

It is with a heavy heart that due to the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic we are announcing that it will not be possible for Run Series to deliver any of our physical events this year – this includes Run Gatwick, Run Reigate and Ride Reigate.

Although not altogether unexpected, this is disappointing for everyone involved. However, our priority, regardless of this pandemic, has always always been for the safety and wellbeing of you the runners as well as our volunteers, partners, charities, staff, supporters and the wider community without any of whom our events would just not be possible. Given that there remains vast uncertainty on how to best safely move forwards we do not feel it would be practically possible, or socially responsible, for us to stage these events this year and deliver a safe, fun and enjoyable experience for all.

This decision has been made in consultation with all local authorities who right now are also unable to guarantee availability of event venues. So what happens now? ​All runners and riders currently registered for our 2020 events will be​ automatically transferred to our 2021 events​ and so there is no action for you to take at this stage. We are working with the local authorities and event venues to finalise the 2021 dates and we will announce these very soon. For further details on transfers and deferrals etc, please take a look at our Q&As. We value your opinion.​ We have been thinking about some exciting things we could potentially do for our runners and cyclists in the coming months until we can once again safely host our large scale events. We’d love your input to make sure we’re on the right track so please complete our short survey below. To say thank you for taking part, you’ll be in with a chance to win one of 3 fantastic top-to-toe On Running kits worth over approx. £300​! We very much look forward to when we can all race again and come together with confidence and lighter hearts doing what we do best – Running as One. Until then we would like to say a very heartfelt thank you for your continued support throughout this time, your ongoing understanding is greatly appreciated.

David Kelly, Race Director on behalf of the whole Run Series Team.




We appreciate there will be lots of questions and we have tried to pre-empt those with a detailed Q&A’s which you can find here

In the unlikely situation that you cannot find the answer to your query, please email us at info@runseries.co.uk​. Due to a reduced working team we will do our very best to respond to your query within 5 working days.

Why did you decide to postpone the 2020 races to 2021?

We considered many alternative approaches to try and safely deliver Run Gatwick, Run Reigate and Ride Reigate with appropriate social distancing measures. However, after careful consideration, we made the difficult decision to postpone all mass participation events to 2021. Our decision was rooted in the best interests for the health and wellbeing of runners, supporters, volunteers, sponsors, suppliers and all those involved in making the running of these events possible. In addition the continued uncertainty over government guidelines for events significantly reduces the window of time needed to plan and deliver safely our full event experience.

Will my registered place for my event still hold for 2021?

Yes, your entry for your 2020 event will be valid for the 2021 race and will be automatically transferred over to the new date (date still TBC), you do not need to do anything else, we will contact you nearer to the event with all the usual information.

Is there a refund option available for these events?

Organising our event requires a considerable amount of forward planning and expense – and entry fees are used to support these costs, many of which are incurred long before event day. Your entry fees doesn’t only cover on the day costs like road closures, barriers, medals, t-shirts, Policing, medical provision, etc – they also help to cover the up front planning costs which include staff wages, risk assessments, safety measures, consultation with local businesses, supplier fees and licences – to name but a few. For these reasons the Run Series refund policy for all of our events has always been the same, we do not and cannot offer refunds. This is made clear in our ​terms and conditions​ ​– which all runners agree to upon registration.

What if I can’t make the new event date?

As soon as we are able to, we will announce our 2021 dates. If you are unable to make the new date, you will be able to defer your place to the following year, transfer to another of our events or transfer your place to another participant. All of these options will be free of charge.

What happens if my place was allocated by a charity partner?

As your charity place belongs to your charity, any decision about your place must be made by them. Details regarding the potential reallocation of charity places should be discussed with the relevant charity partner directly.

What will happen to the Run Gatwick England Athletics National Championships and Sussex Athletics Championships?

The 2021 Run Gatwick event will retain Championship status for both Sussex Athletics and England Athletics and all elite places will automatically have their entry deferred to the new 2021 event as detailed by Run Series in the coming weeks.

Will there be a virtual event instead?

We are currently exploring options and invite you to complete our survey and have your say. We will take on board your comments and make an announcement regarding this as soon as possible.

When announced, are the 2021 event dates guaranteed?

As much as we would like to, we cannot offer you certainty around rescheduled event dates as there are just too many factors out of our control. In a world that is changing so rapidly on a daily basis, the future is far from certain but we will do our best to honour our commitment to you and deliver a fantastic event experience in line with the government regulations in place at the time.

What happens with my iTAB/PacePocket order?

Your iTab/Pace Pocket order will be carried over to your 2021 event entry.