I was looking through this months Runner's World and there was a section on helping kids who wanted to run. It was saying that the biggest problem that they have is pacing, and there were a couple of suggested sessions to get kids to do to try to help.
I don't think that pacing is only a problem for kids. There are many people who look fantastic in training, but when it comes to races never quite perform as they should. This can be for many reasons, but it often includes an inability to get pacing spot on. Remember that the most efficient race strategy is even pace throughout, or just a negative split (the second half slightly faster than the first). How many people manage to do this in every race they do?
So what can you do to learn and practice pacing? I think there are several sessions that you can use. So building on the Runner's Worlds suggestions for kids, my recommendations are for the following sessions:
- Out and back run. 15-30 mins out and then turn round and get back faster.
- Laps. Example - 3+ laps of Lancaster Park, each lap faster than the previous one. The more laps the better because then pace judgement gets more and more important, even if you do skive on the first lap.
- Track 800m session. This is good for pace judgement because you can be so precise about time and distance. For a really good pacing session do 8-10 X 800m with 1 min recoveries. Each 800 must be the same time as the previous one, or faster. The final 800 must be at least 5 secs faster than the first one - BUT no more than 10 secs to try to stop you walking the first one!
- Long run with quality finish. The issue with maintaining a steady pace is that it becomes increasingly hard and painful. So you have to know how to do it at varying degrees of tiredness. The best way to do this is to add a quality finish onto the end of a long run. For example on a 10 mile run, take the first 6-7 miles easy - it doesn't really matter how easy. Then do the last 3-4 miles at a good pace e.g. approaching half marathon race pace. You can adapt this to any distance of long run. The quality bit ideally should be around 1/4 to 1/3 of the distance and no more than 1/2.
UKA Level 2