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What Is My Time?

Rather than seeing who can run the fastest, students see who has learned the most about measuring their pace

Tags: elementary school, pacing

Objectives This game will help students get a sense for pacing and for their current ability.

National Standards for Physical Education (NASPE)
Standards 1,2,5,6

New York State Education Department (NYSED)
Standards 1,2

Prerequisite First conduct Animal Run and Out and Back to introduce the concept of pacing.
Time Required 20 minutes
Materials Stopwatch or watch with a second hand, cones to mark the course as needed, clipboard, roster, and pen

Prepare for the Activity

  • There are no videos that directly connect with this game; however, you can use these videos to review the basic pacing concepts that can be taught to elementary school students.
  • Identify and mark a course about 200-400 meters long. If using a gym, set cones in each corner that the students must run around to complete their laps.

Introduce the Activity

  • Name the game and tell students that it will help them get a feel for their pace, which is the speed they can maintain over time. The better they can understand their pace, or ability, the better they will get at adjusting their pace to different challenges - like hills.
  • Explain the course to the students and ask them to guess how long it will take them to complete it.
  • Remind students of Animal Run, in which they learned they could run at many different speeds, and quickly demonstrate slower and faster running paces. Then remind them of Out and Back, in which they learned to run at a steady pace. Tell them that today they should try to run evenly and smoothly the entire time, rather than sprinting hard the first half and jogging the latter half. The idea is to run at the fastest pace they can maintain over the full course.
  • Tell students that they will be split into groups of four. One runner from each group will run at a time and you will time them. Remember, it is not about who is fastest, but who guesses their time the best.
  • After everyone has run, you will announce the group whose combined times are closest to the aggregate time that they guessed.
  • Students will then make new guesses and try again one or more times as time allows.

Conduct the Activity

  1. Divide the students into groups of four.
  2. Have each student guess his or her time for the course, and record those times as well as the group totals. Do this for all students before any group runs.
  3. Start the first runner from each group, and record their times as they finish their lap.
  4. Do the same for each set of runners.
  5. See which group came closest to their aggregate guessed time, and announce the winning group. Also announce the top three to five students who came closest to their individual times.
  6. Repeat this one to three more times, as time allows. You can have students make new guesses based on the first try and whether they think they can run faster, the same, or if they will be too tired and need to run slower.

Assess the Students

What to watch for:

  • Steady pacing

Direction cues to share with students:

  • “Don’t sprint!”
  • “Hold your pace!”
  • “It’s not a race!”

Note: Only give a student one direction cue at a time. You can also comment on aspects of the students' running form, but the primary focus is on their pacing.


When you've completed "What Is My Time?" talk to your students about their experience with the activity. Here are some sample questions to get you started:

  • How hard was it to predict your time? Were you surprised by how hard it was?
  • Did you get better at predicting your time? What helped you make better guesses?
  • Were you able to run at a steady pace the whole time or did you have to slow down at points? If you had to slow down at points what could you have done differently so you could run at a steady pace the whole time? (start off at a slower pace, so you could be consistent throughout)
  • As you ran the course for a second and third time, did you find you had to slow down? If so, why?
  • Do you think you're better at running fast over a short distance or running at a little slower pace but over a longer distance?


  • You could make this into a relay race, where you only track the time of the whole group not each individual student and the winning team would be the team that was closest to their guessed aggregate time. You could try this on rounds three and four, time permitting.
  • Try varying the distance for the third and fourth rounds, if time allows.
  • Pair students up, have one run while the other counts their laps, then they switch.
  • If you have a large class and need to divide into groups, have the non-running group prepare by stretching or give them a fun exercise like juggling scarves while they wait their turn.

Inclusion Strategies

Classrooms are filled with learners who demonstrate a variety of needs and abilities, including ESL students, those with disabilities, and gifted/talented students. Consider these adaptations as you work to modify the lesson for student success.

  • Use peer helpers as support runners so everyone is not staring at one person at a time.
  • Have students run in pairs to pace each other.
  • Don’t time the students at first; ask them to finish as a group.
  • Encourage students to cheer by clapping or singing—try not to chant students’ names because that can be intimidating.
  • Tell students their times as they come. Then, once everyone has had their turn, tell them all to yell their number out loud at the same time so no one person feels upset about their results.
  • Consider a reward system using stickers or other tangible items that can be collected over time individually or by group.
  • Provide visual display for directions and course changes.
  • Have students walk the course as a group asking each student to point out something of interest along the way: “I spy with my little eye…” Then have them go back and jog the course and look for those items.
  • Set up two different courses, one for jogging and one for speed work, and allow students to choose where they want to start.

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