Race Strategy Fundamentals: How to Pace Every Type of Race

When you first start running races, you main goal may be to finish the distance. After the initial learning curve, most runners set their sights on a specific time.

race pacing

This is where pacing strategy comes in. That refers to your plan for the duration of the race which yields the finishing time that you are striving for.

Pacing can vary greatly based on the distance of the race, the experience and strengths of the runner, as well as the mindset going into it.

Today we’re talking about shorter and longer distances up to the marathon. I will share the strategies that lend themselves to a specific distance race as well as general ones that can be leveraged in any race.

Common Pace Strategies

A loose approach to racing is common. Something that may sound like “I hope I can run fast fast”. Cross your fingers and go. There’s certainly a time and place for that.

However, you may find other strategies to be more reliable and consistent in yielding results. The most frequently mentioned is negative splits, which involves running the second half of the race faster than the first half.

Other strategies may include going out as fast as you can and leaving the rest to your body and the universe. Why take the risk of slowing down towards the end of the race? Hear my thoughts on it in this clip:

For longer races, it may be wiser to go out at a steady pace and kick into a fast gear near the finish.

Listen to the full episode as I answer reader questions:

  • How do I negative split a marathon?
  • Should I run even splits or run the first few miles slower?
  • How do I get through the middle of a race where I always slow down?
  • When do I know if I should go out really fast?

Of course, your pace is only one piece of the puzzle. Other factors matter and we have resources to help you with:

Looking for more topics or other resources? Let us know! We exist to help you improve your running.

In the meantime, enjoy today’s podcast and I wish you a fast race ahead!

Subscribe to the podcast in Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcheriHeartRadio, or Google Play.

Links & Resources from the Show:

Thank you Elemental Labs!

A big thanks to Elemental Labs for their support of this episode! They make electrolyte drinks for athletes and low-carb folks with no sugar, artificial ingredients, or colors.

Elemental Labs’ products have some of the highest sodium concentrations that you can find. Anybody who runs a lot knows that sodium, as well as other electrolytes like magnesium and potassium, are essential to our performance and how we feel throughout the day.

The citrus flavor has quickly become my favorite. I’m drinking one a day now to help me get enough fluids in our dry Colorado air. It’s tasty and delicious and I find that I’m not peeing every 45 minutes throughout the day, which might be an indication I wasn’t eating enough sodium.

There’s now mounting evidence that higher sodium intake levels are not unhealthy – and athletes need substantially more than your typical sedentary person. Of course, ask your doctor if you’re worried. But for those athletes running outside in the heat, an electrolyte replacement makes a lot of sense.

They just released their first new flavor of 2021, their most requested flavor, watermelon salt. So check out Elemental Labs to try their new flavor and get your hydration optimized. 

Get Stronger & Run Healthy

Join our free course to help you better prevent injuries, develop runner-specific strength, and avoid the big mistakes that get runners hurt