When you head out the door, you're getting gassed before you reach your halfway point on your run, you know you're not pacing yourself, right and you're not sure what to do. Well, I'm Jesse Funk and on today's episode of Runners High, I'm going to teach you a few techniques to figure out how to pace yourself while you're running.
There's a few different ways that people like to pace. Some people like to stare at their GPS watch intently and figure out, okay, this is the exact pace that my watch says I'm going, I'm right on pace or I'm too slow or I'm too fast.
Other people want to rely on their heart rate and say, okay, I need this heart rate, and I'm gonna be stuck on this. And this is exactly what I want to do. And yet, other people rely on this some kind of vague, weird feeling to pace and it doesn't really have this easily measurable metric that we can stare at.
Well, if you've watched my other videos, you know I am big on RPE or rate of perceived exertion, which is that feeling, that feeling inside, through all the combinations of the systems in our bodies that are working that tell us what is our pace. And in this video, I'm going to talk a little bit about how to train that, how to get rid of the watch and learn that feeling so that you can be a better pace for your run.
If you watch my interview on the Smart Athlete Podcast with running expert, Dr. Jason Karp, I asked him about my friend, my friend who is super reliant on his GPS watch. He just doesn't know how to pace otherwise. He feels completely out of his league, or out of his comfort zone without his GPS watch.
And I asked Dr. Jason, I said, “What can my friend do? What can my friend do to learn how to pace not relying on the watch?” And he said, “Well, the answer is simple, get rid of the watch.”
That makes sense, right? If we're solely reliant on this piece of technology to tell us how fast we're going, we're not paying attention to all the other indicators that tell us this is our pace, this is what's happening with our body. I'm kind of esoteric in the sense that I love runs without a watch, that it's just a run for running sake. And there's a certain amount of enjoyment within that. But we're talking about pacing, if you have to have a watch, go back to something more basic, just a normal, super simple, only does this stopwatch feature kind of watch. And I'll use one on some of my runs, the kind of gives me indicators how the day's going.
But I use it at checkpoints, so really have no bearing on anything outside of the run. I don't know whether it's a mile in or if it's .79 miles, or if it's 3.37, or I have no idea. They're only bearing within a certain run. So, I'll know, okay, maybe I'm normally on average, 34 minutes at this particular checkpoint, when I run by this sign, it's 34 minutes. And today, it’s 33, I'm feeling good, going a little bit faster, or maybe today, go a little slower, 35. But paying attention to those things and having kind of that internal sense, isn't bad if you're using that basic watch.
So, now that you've got your basic watch, what can you actually do to learn to feel how to pace? Well, a lot of it has to do with paying attention to your body systems. So, what we're going to do is I want you to head to the track. It's boring, it's simple, but it's reliable and that is the biggest part. You know exactly what you're running if you're at the track. You've got easily measurable, completely flat surface. So, you know how to hit those times and then listen to your body.
So, the exercise here is, say for instance, you want to run three miles for the day. Well, you're going to break that up into intervals. Now, you're not going to run them any faster than you want to run your long pace. Whatever your long pace is. That's what you want to hit. So, say it's nine minute miles, figure out what that is for a quarter, which is one lap around the track.
Now, run that one lap, stop at the end of the lap, stop your watch and see, am I on pace? How do you feel? If you're on pace, then continue up and do two laps, the next time. Start the watch at the beginning interval, don't look at it at all, until you finish the interval. You can continue this all the way up till you do three laps, four laps. Again, you don't want to accumulate more laps than for your total distance for the day. But this is one way the most reliable way I know to figure out how to pace.
Now, say you do that lap and you didn't get it, you went too slow or you went too fast. Most likely, you went too fast because it's one lap. You can cheat on one lap, you can go faster on one lap than you can for three miles solid. But it's about learning those internal systems.
So, if you didn't hit your time, repeat. Do that one lap over again, adjust. And part of the thing about pacing is learning to ignore that voice inside your head that says go faster, it's just one lap. Because like I said you can cheat on one lap, but you can't cheat for that whole three miles. And the goal is to learn what that three mile pace for you feels like for this particular workout. What's that long run pace actually feel like?
Inside of these intervals, there's a few things I want you to think about. I want you to think about, how do my legs feel? How fast are they turning over? How hard am I pushing off with them? What's the cadence, that rhythm that comes along with your pace? And you can check out your cadence on your watch if you want to. It's kind of cheating if you pay attention to the interval, but you can count them on one leg when say, your right leg hits the ground, you start at zero, look at your watch, and then count for 10 seconds.
As you count up, and you'll multiply by six, that's your cadence. That gives you an indication you know a hard measure of okay, this is how I feel. And you can use that over time to adjust up and down and then eventually, you want to know how to just feel okay, this is 90 RPM. So, this is 95 RPM, or 85 whatever it is, but that’s an easy way to indicate.
A few of the other things I want you to pay attention to on these laps as you're learning how to pace your long run pace is, how hard are your lungs working? Are you breathing, are you huffing and puffing? You shouldn't be. Things should be relatively easy, almost comfortable. Are your shoulders relaxed, how your shoulders feel? All these different measures your lungs, your legs, your shoulders, your arm movement; all these different things come together to make this whole system, the whole mechanics of running in that gives you an indication, an internal indication of how your pace is.
And these are the things that as you pay attention to over time will become ingrained, where you don't have to think about them so hard, they become more on autopilot through muscle memory. And that is really the secret or the crux of pacing.
Be sure to subscribe to the channel, as I talked about all these kind of things from my experience from running for nearly 20 years of competitive running now. But you can use this same kind of idea to learn your long run pace, to learn your own paces; your tempo, your threshold just like I described in my interval training series, the different paces. You use the same methodology.
You may break them down slower, say you want to learn how to do threshold pace, which you can't hold for as long as you can long run pace. So, maybe you break it down into I want to run threshold pace for 100, now I want to do 200, now I want to do 400. And you do that same methodology over and over again to learn these different paces and help you become more internalized with what you're actually doing.
So, those are my tips on how to learn how to pace while you're running. What else do you want to know about pacing? What else do you want to know about running? Leave them in the comments below. Let me know what can I help you with. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runners High.