These running tips will hopefully help you to avoid the #1 common mistake that runners make: starting out too fast at the beginning of a run or a race.
The excitement, adrenalin, and crowd tend to make runners go faster than they should without realizing that they are doing so. This causes them to struggle in the later miles of the half marathon or long run.
Pacing is highly important for finishing strong.
However other benefits of pacing include reducing the risk of injury and conserving glycogen (fuel).
Paying attention to your pace while training will help you to avoid this scenario. It takes practice to get to know your running body and figure out when you need to hold back and when you should push ahead.
These running tips for pacing yourself during your long and short training runs do not carry over to threshold training, speed training, or interval training.
If you want information on what, when, and how to implement each of those training runs + find out exactly what training paces YOU should be running at, check out our Train Faster + Smarter Runner's Pace Kit.
Don’t start out too fast.
This is the #1 mistake most runners make at the starting line of the half-marathon and it is easy to make the same mistake at the beginning of a run. Get used to setting a slower, even pace now on your shorter runs.
Speed up to your average pace as soon as you are warmed up and feeling comfortable.
If you want to run faster, now is the time to do it. Don’t start at a fast pace as soon as you hit the road. Give your body time to adjust.
If you do feel like increasing your pace then do it on these shorter runs. You need the long runs to be run at a slow, even pace to help you build your endurance.
Stay relaxed throughout your body.
The more relaxed you are the better able you are to pace yourself and get a good readout of how you are feeling and whether you are capable of going faster or if you need to slow down.
Keep your head up and your eyes out in front of you.
If you run with your head down on your chest and with your eyes on your feet you are going to slow yourself down and your pace will not come without more effort. Keep your body tall, and at a slight lean forward. Pull your stomach in slightly and think of yourself as gliding.
Learn how to pace yourself through monitoring your heart rate.
This will help you to keep yourself in check and monitor how you body is handling when you run slower or faster.
Your breathing will change depending on your intensity and speed. There are different breathing patterns that you can use to run more economically when you are running faster. Learning how to employ these techniques can be very beneficial.
This is really the time to buckle down and focus on your pace. The main goal of the long run is to make yourself capable of going the distance you are training for.
The thing to remember with pacing during a long run is that it is just that. Pacing.
A lot of runners fall into the trap thinking that pacing is all about going fast. Not true. Pacing is a protection against your own self, against injury and against all odds that might be against you such as the weather, stomach distress, etc.
If you are not able to adjust to your needs then you need to learn how to make pacing work for you.
Here are some running tips for pacing yourself:
Don’t start out too fast.
Yes, this is extremely important which is why it will always be listed in my running tips. If you start out too fast you are shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to the later miles of the run and your energy is spent.
Run at a comfortable pace.
You shouldn’t be breathing too hard but also don’t go so slow that you trip on your own feet. Nice and easy does it. If you are not sure whether you are going too fast then you probably are. Go slower. There should not be a doubt.
A good pace is one where you can hold a conversation.
If you feel like the last thing you are able to do is talk to someone then you are going too fast. This is one of the advantages of training with a partner. They help to keep your pace in check. Just choose someone who is at your same level and keep it open, don’t hold one or the other back.
If you need to stop and walk for a couple of minutes, do so.
This is about going the distance, not going the distance as fast as you can. In fact as you get to the longer runs during training you may want to set in some definite walking breaks. (e.g. every time you hydrate you walk for 2-3 minutes.)
Keep an eye on your watch.
Although we mostly associate timing ourselves for speed, we can also use it to make sure that we aren’t going too fast. If you can run a mile in say 9:00 minutes during a shorter run then you will want to slow your pace down to somewhere between 9:30-10:00 minutes during a long run.
Run hills at the same effort as flat landscapes.
Notice that this read “effort” and not “time”. Keeping the effort the same on a hill as on a flat surface means that you are going to have to go slower on hills.
However you can make up the time on the downhill. Just be careful as runners tend to continue their fast pace after they have arrived at the bottom of the hill. Don’t make the mistake of wasting precious energy here. Keep the same effort level and time yourself for the next mile to make sure you are not going too fast after a hill.
Make allowances for the weather.
If it is hot outside, plan on slowing your pace down. This is particularly important if it is very humid as you may not feel the heat but you will become dehydrated and overheated much faster than in non-humid climates.
If you have the energy, practice your finishing sprint during your final quarter of a mile. This will prep you for finishing strong at the end of your half or full marathon. It will train you to get that finishing sprint in when you are already tired.
Let us runners know what running tips for pacing you have in the comments below! I always love hearing how to make it easier!
The Runner's Pace Kit how to train for your time goal