Pro Tips for Pacing Runs & Workouts
Written by Tricia Moore

I have the secret to help you master longer workouts! It’s called ‘pacing’ – and it must be learned. Do you ‘FLY AND DIE’, or do you know the RIGHT PACE for the race? Learning to pace requires self-awareness, confidence, and skill.

Why is pacing so difficult?

When you start your run (or whatever workout you are attacking), it can feel like your breathing rate skyrockets after just a few steps. That’s because your cardiovascular system – and mind – isn’t warmed up yet. When you breathe heavily, it feels stressful and you often don’t know how to regulate it. People either quit, or think they aren’t cut out for running, thinking they can’t even make it down the block. 

Pro Tip: Running  requires a different mindset. You must be patient. Instead of approaching it as an AMRAP and going all out, get  through the first three minutes and allow your heart to regulate. 

When you run, you can’t push yourself to an extreme and expect to go very far. You have to learn what your body is capable of and for how long before pushing to your limits. This takes practice!

Tips for Pacing

  1. Slow down. It may seem counterintuitive, but taking it down a few notches is the first step to getting a grip on your pace. For more on this, check out: Start Slower to Finish Faster!
  2. Check your breath. Are you huffing and puffing? Are you taking in short or long breaths? Try utilizing nasal breathing – especially in your warm-ups and practice sessions – to calm your central nervous system so it doesn’t think you are in fight or flight mode.
  3. Tune into your body. Are you operating from fear or awareness?
  4. Don’t be afraid to run-walk. This can be a useful tool, especially in the beginning, to train yourself about your physical limits. If you hit a pace you can’t sustain, you pushed a little too hard for the distance required. That’s ok. Walk for a bit until you get back into the zone where you can run again. Lesson learned! Now you know your threshold and can more easily keep your exertion below that in the future. 
  5. Let go of expectations. It doesn’t matter today what you used to be able to do. Or even what you think you should be able to do. Focus on where you are presently and enjoy being in the moment as much as possible. Try this noting drill for more awareness of the ‘now’.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others. Run your own race which will feel much better both mentally and physically! Read more on the downside of Comparing Yourself to Others.

Learning how to pace your run – or any workout for that matter – will help you hit the training intent of that session, improve your outlook, and make you a better athlete in the long run. Give it a try in preparation for your next event!

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