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Master the Art of Achieving a New Personal Record on Race Day


Master the Art of Achieving a New Personal Record on Race Day

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Master the Art of Achieving a New Personal Record on Race Day

If you have ever taken on the challenge of a marathon or even thought about it, you are likely familiar with one common piece of advice: Do not start too fast.

This guidance is repeated for a good reason. It is crucial to race day success, yet it can be tempting to disregard. Many novice and seasoned marathoners alike often make the error of attempting to gain time early on in the race, leading to fatigue and hitting the wall later.

One effective method to prevent this is to run alongside a pacer. These are seasoned runners tasked with guiding a group to a specific finish time at a consistent pace or effort level.

Two experienced pacers shared their insights with Well+Good, having assisted numerous runners in reaching their marathon and half-marathon objectives. Whether you plan to utilize an official pacer at your next event or prefer to maintain an even pace independently, continue reading for invaluable advice.

Top Strategies for Running with a Pace Group

Engage with Your Pacer

Initiating a conversation with a pacer might seem daunting. However, Myles Lock, who has paced multiple New York City Marathons and numerous half marathons with New York Road Runners, assures that “we don’t bite.” Lock emphasizes the importance of runners communicating with their pacer – whether to ask questions or share their race goals.

When possible, try to connect with your pacer before the race begins. While they may be available at race expos, it is also acceptable to inquire in the corrals. During these interactions, the pacer typically outlines the race plan, aiming for a balanced effort to adjust for elevation changes. However, Rashaad Forehand, a pacer for Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, advises against unnecessary conversation during the race to conserve energy.

Trust Your Pacer’s Expertise

Most pacers must demonstrate a consistent track record of completing races significantly faster than the ones they are pacing. Despite this, runners often inquire about their pacer’s personal best mid-race to gain reassurance. Although this may be slightly bothersome, Lock understands that it is a way for runners to alleviate concerns about their pacer’s capabilities.

Runners may also question the pace during the race, not grasping the concept of “even effort” rather than speed variation. Pacers are equipped to maintain consistent pacing, and while they welcome runner inquiries, Lock emphasizes the importance of entrusting the pacing responsibilities to them.

If in Doubt, Opt for the Slower Pace Group

Aligning with a pacer will only be beneficial if the pace suits your abilities. It is advisable to set a realistic goal based on your training and the course, opting for a slower pace group if uncertainty exists between two groups.

Communicate with your pacer regarding your situation, enabling them to assist in adjusting your pace as needed during the race. Pacing experts like Lock are adept at analyzing scenarios to support runners in achieving their goals.

Avoid Headphones

Pacers offer guidance and insights throughout the race, making it essential to keep your ears open to their instructions. Maintaining awareness of your surroundings and being receptive to your pacer’s cues can enhance your performance.

Forehand and Lock highlight the importance of staying engaged and responsive during the race to optimize the pacer’s instructions and support.

Find Your Comfort Zone

Ensure you position yourself within earshot of the pacer while avoiding overcrowding. For those unaccustomed to large race groups, running slightly ahead or behind the pace group may be more comfortable.

Forehand advises against excessive weaving or energy expenditure to navigate through crowds, emphasizing the significance of patience and strategic advancements.

Becoming Your Own Pacer

Practice Your Target Pace

In preparation for a marathon, dedicating time to run at your desired marathon pace is essential. Familiarize yourself with the pace to instill confidence before race day.

Utilize Watches for Pace Monitoring

Running watches with pace tracking capabilities can aid in maintaining a consistent speed during training sessions. While this tool is beneficial for practice runs, relying on it excessively during a race may hinder your performance.

Employ Pace Bands

Pace bands offer mile-by-mile time estimates based on a specific pace, aiding in pacing strategies during the race. These bands are particularly valuable in areas where GPS accuracy may be compromised, enhancing race-day planning.

Avoid Aggressive Pacing

Resist the urge to push beyond your goal pace early in the race. Save your energy for later stages, focusing on a gradual increase in speed as the race progresses. Establish a steady rhythm to sustain your performance throughout the event.

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