In competition events, athletes can follow a pacer: a runner who is trained to help a competitor maintain a certain speed. But outside the event, how do you train to keep up a certain pace?
For myself after base training and preparing for an ultra- my current natural pace is on the low side of the spectrum. I often run in the wilderness and don’t listen to music not only for safety reasons, but also to enjoy the serenity. I find myself being captivated by the scenery…… and then realizing that I am typically falling into that easy “run all day long” pace. This in itself is fine- but if I want to tackle a shorter distance I should speed it up a bit……. but how?
A common option is a GPS watch that contains a virtual pacer. These can be purchased at any running room store. The more expensive GPS watch models will let you know your pace during your run. There are a variety of features, that many of you probably already know about. Runners world does a great comparison on budget watches.
My fabulous watch- the Polar FT7 – does not contain a GPS and focuses more on heart rate and calorie expenditure. So in the pacing sense-> I’m hooped.
Unless- you have a mitchell in your life! Much better than a watch, Mitch volunteered to hop onto his bicycle and pace me along the pathways of the Bow River as I ran. It was fabulous. Periodically he would inform me of my current pace, “You’re doing great Michelle! You’re going strong at 14km/hr right now.” The words of encouragement mixed in were a huge bonus. (Encouragement is not a service provided by a GPS device). Other times Mitch would advise me if I had slowed down or propose I pick up the pace and push harder if he thought I needed more of a challenge.
Not all of us have the same advantages or are able to train with another person, and thus technology is a great and reliable way to to track progress and collect data. Another great tool to add to the training belt even when training with a partner. My friend Brad and I still strap on our heart rate monitors when running together.
If you have the opportunity to pace with a person, I would take it. The benefits are ego boosting and quite enjoyable.