Running a Race – Start off Slow

For new runners looking for advice on keeping a pace to finish their race, my advice is typical of most experienced runners, start off slow.

Running a race and keeping your race pace should be secondary to avoiding injury and finishing the race. So, whether your running an upcoming Turkey Trot 5k or a winter 10 milers, the advice doesn’t change, start off slow.

The first benefit may not be something you thought of. Considering the time of year, late fall, early winter, almost any race you start will be in whether that can be from chilly to downright cold. Cold weather makes road racing tough because it is tough for you to get a good warm-up in before your road race. If you are running a 10k, but the temperature outside is near freezing, chances are you will spend a few extra minutes in your warm car or a nearby gym before getting out to the starting line. By starting off slow, you will give your body a chance to warm up, thereby reducing the chance for an injury.

Even though you may be off your targeted running race pace, starting off slow will also keep your adrenaline in check. Chances are, you are very anxious about the start of the race. So, keeping your pace down may be difficult. Often times, when I tell someone to start off slow, they do. Or, at least they think they are starting off slow. However, when they hit the first mile marker, they find that they are on pace or slightly ahead of race pace. Starting off slow kept that extra energy in check to avoid burnout later in the race.

Determine your Running Race Pace Using a Pace Chart

A pace chart is a very important tool for runners who plan on attempting a road race. Whether it is a 5k, 10k, 10 miler or marathon, a pace chart is a key tool in race planning.

There are many aspects to race planning. Aside from the obvious of training, race registration, preparing meals, preparing clothes and more, you must have your target race pace. The target race pace is what your pace goal is for the race.

Most runners strive for even splits during their race. What this means is that you run an even, steady, pace for the entire race. If your race pace is 10 minutes per mile for 5 miles, then the finish time would be 50 minutes. Even splits are something that most runners strive for.

Using a pace chart to determine your race pace is very easy. To begin, find your target race distance on the chart. Let’s assume you plan to run a 10k road race. Next, you need to decide if you want to track your pace in miles or kilometers. If your race is in the United States, chances are the markers will be set a 1 mile intervals. Elsewhere, the markers will be at each kilometer.

Next, refer to your training runs to find a challenging pace for the target distance. You’ll know if the goal is reasonable by looking at the projected finish time on the pace chart.

Use the pace chart on running pace calculator for assistance.

What Running Pace Should You Run?

The running pace you should run is primarily dictated by your level of fitness, the length of the run and your running capability.

First, your pace cannot be selected arbitrarily. Selecting a pace for a run or a road race should be done with careful consideration. You should never select your running pace based on what you would like to run unless you have completed adequate training. Never select a pace that you have never run before.

So, what should you do. Consult the following pointers, and, your running pace chart to determine your pace.

Level of Fitness
First, your level of running fitness is a key to determing your running pace. For long races, if you have not put in the appropriate amount of mileage, you will not have the staminia to maintain your race pace. For shorter road races, you need to have trained with the right amount of speed. Don’t attempt to race a particular pace until you have run it several times in training. Preferably, you have run this race pace in shorter distances to get a good feel for what the pace feels like. You should be able to maintain the pace in a consistent manner for 75% of the targeted distance of the race.

Length of Run
Naturally, the length of your run will be a determing factor in your pace. The longer the run, the slower the pace. Check your running pace with our calculator then check the pace chart. Use your training as a guide to help you determine what pace you can maintain. If you have a high level of fitness, generally your pace will decrease 10% per kilometer or per mile.

Running Capability
Finally, your running capability will dictate your pace. Faster running can maintain a faster pace. If you can run a mile in 6 minutes, but you can’t run 2 miles in 12 minutes, you shouldn’t target a 6 minute per mile pace in a 10k race. Pick a slower pace.