01 April 2014

keeping vs. pushing the pace

this weekend i've got a run planned that i've not ever undertaken before.

i'm helping to pace someone in a race.

any of you who have ever done something like this can appreciate that there's a difference between being confident about completing a particular distance in a certain time and being about to help guide another runner to complete that same distance in that given time.

pacing (as i understand it) is about more than providing a guarantee of crossing the finishing line in a certain number of hours/minutes/seconds.  it's about doing so in a fashion that calls forth an effort that can reasonably be expected of someone who may have the same athletic capacity as you.

does that make sense?

it's not as if i can just sandbag it for 80% of the race and then turn on the afterburners for the remaining 20% - the person for whom i'm serving as pacer may be running on fumes at the 80% mark.  

and it's not as if i'm just 'along for the ride' with my fellow runner - if i neglect on my responsibility to push him/her appropriately, then we both wind up missing the mark.

on top of all of that, a pacer is an encourager.  i've got to be comfortable enough running at a speed that i can be doling out words that will inspire, uplift and challenge the other person in a way that will bring out his/her best.

put that all together, and there's more at stake in this race than in any other race that i've run to this point.

and i love it.

here's to a great day.  here's to my friend crossing the finish line in the time that he hopes for.  and here's to the opportunity to have my legs make a difference in someone else's life.




  1. Wishing you both a great race, Patrick! You lead by example and you're a great one, so don't stress over it! If I needed a pacer, I would ask you:)

    1. thanks so much anna! your words are very kind - i hope that i can continue to find ways to be more of a selfless runner.

      and i would pace for you anytime! :)

  2. Good luck to you and your friend, both of you will be awesome!

    My friend Kim paced me for my first 10k last November and she was awazing! Kim brought along a pace band, noticed when I dropped around the 4-5k mark (but didn't tell me) and started chatting to distract me while picking up the pace. She was so great at keeping me distracted while pushing me along that I didn't even notice and crushed my goal time by almost 4 minutes.

    1. hey anita - thanks so much for your comments, and your vote of confidence!

      wow - beating your 10k goal time by about 4 min.??? that's massive! fantastically done - by both you and your pacer!

  3. I paced my wife in a 5K last year and got her a PR, but she hated my guts halfway through the run...I might have been doing it wrong :)