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.


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