Tuesday, 20 December 2005

Racing Principle #9

Posted by speedygeoff on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 with 4 comments
Even Pace Produces Fastest Times.

You can improve your times by running at your fastest best pace as evenly as possible.

Pacing is learned in training by doing interval work with a stop watch until it becomes second nature to do fast repeat efforts over short distances in the same predetermined time.

Then when it comes to racing, after warming up well for the race, don’t start out too fast or too slow.

In training you can practise going out at exactly the pace of your projected race time.

The only real exception to this principle is the marathon, where you can expect to tie up a little at the end, so the pace you run at should project to a little faster than the time you expect.

Even with no improvement in fitness, say you had run a 10k averaging 4 minutes per km, but the first km was 3:40, then just by running another starting out at 3.55 minutes per km, you should be able to improve your time considerably. Running at a more even pace is the secret.

And you can use pacing charts to project from your race performances what you might run for other races. For example if your 3k pace is 100 seconds per lap and your 5k pace is 105 seconds per lap, then you can aim for 102 second per lap in the 5k confident that it is easily achievable.

However I find that most people are quite conservative about how much improvement they are capable of. So at times throw caution to the winds - see principle #8 below for a racing rather than a pacing perspective. Which is right? Both, of course.

"Racing Principle #9 - Even Pace Produces Fastest Times"


  1. Fly Goose Fly

    I like the new action clip.

  2. Racing Principle #9 is one of my favourites... this is why WR attempts at 5k/10k on the track are set up with 'rabbits' running dead-even splits.

    With a 'direction' for SGSoR... it would be interesting to read about your own training/goals etc.

    One question I have:
    In your experience, is it possible to quantify the benefits of 'weekly kilometres run'? If you have a period of months at 80k per week instead of 60k, how much faster will you run 5000m in (presuming speedwork etc remains the same)? If you run 120k per week will you be faster still?

  3. As a Senior runner my experience was that 110 km per week was about optimum for me (and for my training group) for 3000m improvement; 150km per week optimum (for me and for my training group) for marathon improvement. The weekly distance included quite a bit of fast running (e.g. 5k and 10k runs near top pace) but not all out sprinting. The closest to sprinting would have been sets like 20 x 200m runs with 200m jog between. Longer than optimum did not compromise racing speed too much; at the age of 41 I was running 160 km per week, did a 2:32 marathon, and still managed a 2:03 800. If I had specialised in 800 and ran say 70km per week I might have run 2:00 or better for the 800. Who knows?

    Long training (to a point) helps all distances from 1500m and up, in my experience.

    But now that I am 57? My long term goal is 110k per week, leading up to a sub three hour marathon when I turn 60. But I would sooner consistently run 80-90km per week than do the odd 110k and nothing the other weeks through injury or burnout. So I am taking my time.

    With the 110k per week I expect my 1500s to improve to a consistent sub 5:00, and so on up the distance ladder.

    Distance run is not the only factor. The other significant factor is body weight. Again, to a point!

    You are suggesting I put this in a post, not in a comment? OK, Will see if it fits into 2006 plans!!!!!

  4. That reply was almost a post Geoff! Thanks. Maybe do it in a post. I think other distance runners might be interested in finding their 'optimal weekly kms'.

    One problem I have these days is that it's taking longer to run those kms. Remember when we ran the 'Corkwoods' 17k Sunday run in 70-75 minutes? These days it would take me 85-95 minutes. In a way I'm glad the 2003 fires mean you can no longer do that run!