As I mentioned in my most recent rundown, I recently paced a fellow runner.
Whilst I’d been wanting to try pacing for a while, my reasons behind doing so this particular weekend weren’t entirely selfless. I wanted to run myself, but my injury definitely wouldn’t allow me to race (I could almost hear my physio’s disapproving voice in my head). So in order to stave off my Type A competitive personality, that I knew would want to go all-out when surrounded by fast people, I offered to pace.
I asked around, and eventually got paired up with the lovely Michelle, who wanted to hit sub-60 minutes, but was lacking in confidence. We only met about five minutes before the race kicked off, but we said a quick hello, and got to discussing tactics. She explained she usually ran positive splits, and this was usually a problem. We resolved to try to run even splits the whole way through, and keep evaluating to see if the sub-60 was achievable.
Pacing was actually a lot tougher than I expected; you have to keep a constant eye on your watch, make sure your pace is consistent, and act as chief cheerleader all whilst on the move. I don’t want to go into the details of someone else’s race, but my companion struggled slightly, and I don’t blame her. The racetrack was exposed and there was a howling wind; it was cold and truly miserable. The late start had also thrown us both for a loop from a fuel perspective. At around the 3-mile mark, we reevaluated, and decided that sub-60 just wasn’t possible under these conditions. So we resolved just to finish, and I appointed myself chief motivator, as that was precisely what was lacking.
Since even I was struggling to maintain motivation, I decided distraction was key; we nattered about jobs, running clubs, and even my love life- anything to keep our minds off the the task at hand. As we neared the last mile I became annoyingly chipper, cheering my companion on whilst struggling myself to keep motivation.
In the end we finished in 1 hour 6 minutes. That was perfectly fine as far as I was concerned. I had a great time racing not for myself but for someone else, and I was just grateful that we made it across the finish line.
What I learned:
- Bring snacks! Since the whole race was a bit last-minute for me, I was woefully underprepared. It would have been nice to have my running belt to stuff snacks in, and offer to Michelle.
- Motivation is key! So much of running is psychological and I don’t think I’d really appreciated that until seeing someone else struggle and desperately wanting to help then.
- Everyone runs differently-I always run negative splits, be that on race day or a training run. It was really interesting having to take someone else’s needs and habits into consideration.
All being said I had a great day, and am really looking forward to pacing again…just need to finish converting some of my friends!
What’s your top tip for pacing? Have you ever struggled with a really shit race psychologically?
Lots of love