The majority of exercise and sports scientists agree that even pace running is a sensible way to run a distance race for all those perhaps with the exception of elite runners However, even-pace does not mean even effort. It means increased effort as the race progresses. We may, in a 5km run of a sprint triathlon, handle the first 400m in 80 seconds with some ease, we can also maybe reach 800m at the same pace, but for the third 400m and thereafter we have to increase our effort to remain on time and at the same pace. When we step up to the marathon distance or an Ironman Triathlon then I believe that this pacing or rather lack of it can have clearly a more negative affect proportionally.
I think by learning to pace correctly then a race will be like watching the tide. At the start of the race a great number of runners will go away from you, you can rest assured that like the tide a great number will have gone off too quickly and you’ll see them again! It is mentally more rewarding to be passing runners rather than being passed in the last phase of the race. Don’t get me wrong I’ve been there and can tell you that is not the way to record your best time and in an event like Ironman you are going to suffer.
Get to know then what 8 minute mile pace (or approximately 120secs/400m) feels like, what 7 minute mile pace feels like (approximately 105 secs/400), and 6 mins per mile (approximately 90 secs / 400m) or appropriate paces for yourself. This way you will quickly understand a pace that is too fast or hard and one actually that is too easy. To do this you have to practice these different speeds – or speeds within your own performance envelope. Doing sets such as 10 x 800m at your marathon race pace after a warm up will start to hammer home this pace and have you intuitively feeling what that pace is like. A very important skill if your GPS loses signal or there are no mile markers in the race!