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Pacing

Use pacing activities to train middle and long distance runners to monitor and control their speed for more efficient running.

Teaching runners the concept of pacing is one of the most important goals of a coach. Pacing enables athletes to run further, as well as faster, but it is as much a mental concept as it is a physical one. While most high school-age runners will understand the concept of pacing, many will still go out too slow or too fast.


Key Guidelines

Explain to students that pacing is about using your energy efficiently and follow these guidelines during practices:

  • Do a time trial early on to establish a baseline measurement so runners can measure their progress.
  • Use the baseline measurement to calculate initial goal times, target paces, and splits.
  • Help runners learn how to monitor and control their speed to run at a constant speed with constant effort. (Keep in mind actual speed will depend on the length of the run and fitness of the runner.)
  • Work on pacing strategy. Break a run into smaller segments and strive to hit target times, or splits, for those segments.
  • Have runners become familiar with their target splits and help them master running even splits and negative splits.
  • Make sure students have a lot of time to practice pacing.
  • Repeat time trials throughout the season to monitor progress.
  • Keep it fun.

Key terms:

  • Pace is time divided by distance.
  • Goal pace refers to the pace a runner would ultimately like to run for a certain distance by the end of the season.
  • A split is the time that it takes to run a specific portion of a race or workout.
  • An even split is when a runner consecutively runs equal distances in the same amount of time. Calculate even splits by dividing the race distance by the distance you want splits for. Then take the goal time and divide it by that number to get your even split goal. For example: if you want to run 4 miles in 32 minutes, then to get 1 mile splits you divide 4 by 1 and get 4. Then divide 32 by that 4 to get 8. That means you need to run 8-minute mile splits, or 8 minutes per mile.
  • A negative split is when each successive interval is faster than the preceding one.

Youth and Schools