Pace Yourself!

How many times have you gone out for a run and five to ten minutes in you already want to quit?  Usually this feeling is due to over running at the start and not pacing yourself, causing your muscles and cardiovascular system to fatigue quickly.   The body uses the anaerobic system when sprinting but can only last up to 2 minutes.  This is because it does not utilize oxygen.  Once those energy stores deplete, the body has to turn on the aerobic system otherwise you will fatigue very quickly.

Learning to pace yourself takes practice, and that is why it’s important to train for any kind of race or just running for pleasure.  Before starting any training, you need to figure out what your goal time is to finish the given distance.  This way, you can monitor your splits and determine what the differences are between your slow and fast pace.

Finding out your goal pace may take a few runs to determine what is comfortable and how you felt going at different speeds.  Try running a mile and see how long it takes you and how you felt at each aspect of it.  You will get an average pace, but when you add in additional miles to run, you know that some will be faster and some will be slower to bring you to that goal.

No matter what the distance is, the first half mile to mile should always be the slowest.  This is sometimes difficult for people to do since this is when you feel your best.  Your legs are fresh and you can’t feel any fatigue setting in.  The more you practice this, the easier it is to execute during a race or run.  That way, even if your adrenaline is up and you feel awesome, you still know that you need to start out slower to come out on top.

Some extra tips:

  • Wear a heart rate monitor.  This will allow you to see how hard your heart is working and how you feel at those intensities.
  • Practice your breathing.  If you do not have steady and controlled breathing, you will mimic hyperventilating which uses more energy and can slow you down.
  • Use a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale.  This will give you a gauge of how hard you think you are working and feeling at certain speeds.
  • Use music.  Putting slower songs on to start your run can make you more conscious to slow your pace down.  As the run progresses, you can put faster songs on with higher beats per minute.