Pace Judgement: An Important Running Skill

Ironman Run PacingImage via Patrik Theander

Often, and I speak from bitter experience, we see runners in difficulty as a race evolves and this is very as a result of poor pacing. I started the London 2012 marathon in good shape but went off way too quickly. This ended with me sitting on the side of the road somewhere in Canary Wharf then jogging in to finish.

When you run endurance races such as marathons then aspects like pacing can prove to be vital and the skill allows you to conserve energy by firstly not going off too hard and secondly by running at a more even pace with less surges. This in turn has an effect on running economy.

Working on pacing in a number of the run sessions you conduct can be used to develop this pace judgement. I think that specific sessions like that below help this and allow you to improve the skill.

So this is a simple 8 x 400m main set with recoveries being perhaps a 200m jog is an example. I have added some general timings so that you get the idea:

Rep 1: 400m in 1min 40s

Rep 2: 400m in 1min 30s

Rep 3: 400m in 1min 40s

Rep 4: 400m in 1min 40s

Rep 5: 400m in 1min 40s

Rep 6: 400m in 1min 30s

Try these sessions perhaps with or without a GPS and see how you get on.

The good news is that this is a skill as opposed to an ability. Practice this skill and you will get better at run pacing!

About The Author 

Neil is one of the most knowledgeable endurance coaches you'll ever be likely to meet, both in terms of qualifications and valuable experience. He's well into his second decade in the sport of triathlon and third decade as a competitive runner.

In recent years Neil has worked with Runners, from those looking to complete their first 5k through to Elites racing the Olympic Marathon, and Triathletes, from those looking to finish their first ever sprint event, through Age Group medallists at World Championships, Ironman Age Group winners to the Elite Squad at University of Bath.

As an accomplished Ironman triathlete, Neil races for Royal Navy Triathlon and has represented Great Britain at Age Group Level across various distances.

2013 has seen him run a sub 3hr at the Rotterdam Marathon, then complete his second 56 mile Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa in June; he is now making his return to racing Ironman Triathlon.

Neil is available for Triathlon & Running Coaching.


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