How to Pace a Race

Or why maths matters…

On Sunday I tried to help Lissy get a new 10km PB. She’s been working hard for ages and has done great training and so we thought a bit about how to pace a race ahead of Sunday’s Nike Women’s 10km.

1. Train and Cross Train

Lissy has worked really hard with building up body strength and the results have been felt with her speedy feet. Cross training is really important over any distance and 5/10kms are no exception. I’m not going to tell you what to do, there are loads of training plans on the internet and great coaches out there. Cross training wise I think it’s important to find your jam, what do you enjoy?how to pace a race train

2. Trust your Training

You’ve put in the time and effort. Don’t let fear, nerves and a lack of confidence let you down on the day. Stress does nothing good, for anyone, think of the race as a celebration of your training.

3. Decide on a pace per km/mile

Make sure you set your goal/time or pace beforehand and work out your splits. Use an online calculator to work out your splits and practise running at this pace and quicker over shorter distances. How do you like to run, do you prefer to run slower to start (negative splits) or stay steady? Whatever your preference plan for it on race day.

4. Pick a pacer you trust

This could be your Garmin,  other sports watch, a printed list of times, an official race pacer or a friend. What ever you choose, make sure you trust them not to let you down on the day, whether that’s technology or otherwise.

 how to pace a 10km race5. Practise with your Pacer

Whether a gadget or a person do a test run at goal pace to see how you get on, parkrun would be perfect for this as you get an idea of what race day will be like and you get a time afterwards. If you are training for your first race parkrun is the perfect way to meet runners of your pace and get a feeling for the race day hustle and bustle. parkrun is not a race, just a run and welcomes walker, joggers and dogs so it’s much friendlier and relaxed but a great way to ease in. Even if you plan on running with an official pacer, many parkruns do paced events regularly so you can have a go at sticking to a pacer ahead of time – warning, there’s always a crowd and it can get elbowy.

6. What Happens in Vegas

If you are running with a pal remember what happens on the course, stays on the course. In the process of pushing your hardest there may be bottom pops, there may be turse words, there may be flying spit. There may be none of these things but I’m just saying don’t worry about it. We’ve all been there. Leave it on the road and forget about it, you’ve got a PB to chase.

7. Have Fun and Celebrate

how to pace a race for a friendAs I said above consider the race a celebration of your training, as you can see in these pictures Lissy and I had a fab day at the Nike Women’s 10km, smiling in the sunshine. Whatever happens have fun and celebrate afterwards. If you don’t get your PB, if you don’t finish, it’s not a failure.

Lissy has a race ritual that I have taken on which is sunglasses and lippy, it certainly gets you in the party mindset.


So those are my tips on how to pace a race. But I have to be honest this is a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ post. Lissy and I were a bit slap dash about this one and decided that her goal was obviously 5:20 pace which we achieved bang on the money. Looking at my Garmin I could tell in the last km we were never going to make 52 minutes and shortly afterwards realised that minutes have 60 seconds and it is not as simple as we thought. Oops. Lissy and I will be at a 10km near you soon with our smiley faces and PB lippy.

How do you pace your races?

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  1. Mary says:

    Fab tips, shame about the maths! Haha! We’ve all been there, desperately trying to work out splits midrace. Why is it impossible to do simple maths as a runner?! I got a good grade at GCSE but there’s something about working those sums out midrace that my brain just doesn’t cope with!
    Better luck next time, but well done on the having fun part…much more important than a PB! 🙂

  2. Maria @ runningcupcake says:

    Argh so frustrating!
    I made that mistake once – I was trying to get a sub 60 10k- I thought I had done it as my watch said 1 hour, but then I realised it had seconds, and so I had missed it by 32 seconds or something! Ah well, I did it in the end!
    I always look at the race pace calculators on the lucozade website, as they make really easy printable ones. Although for some races I will just roughly work out pace per mile and see how I feel. Depends how much I want a pb or to just enjoy the race.

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