The importance of pace in a race

The importance of pace in a race

For anyone following my journey, you might know that yesterday was a pretty big day for me. I went back to run the Cheshire 10k for the 3rd time in less than 12 months. It was incredibly emotional for so many reasons and I’ve given a very honest account of these here Why I gave up chasing the party, to chase the race and have never been happier!

Every run and indeed every race provides so many opportunities to learn new lessons (especially so if you are relatively new to running like myself). I’ve only really become what I might describe as a semi-confident runner over the last year and that has been 2 years of almost daily training and some serious blood, sweat and tears!

Most days and especially on race days, I find that I am actually my own worst enemy. As humans, I think we can put so much pressure on ourselves to succeed and achieve, that at times, it can be incredibly detrimental.  Yesterday was one of those days…

Raw emotions

Mother’s day. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day. The sun was glorious and the temperature so warm, but I knew I had allowed all my mixed emotions to get the better of me. All week, I had had quite a heavy heart as I will forever associate this race with my Dad (my very first 10k race last year, on what would have been his birthday). The night before, I lay awake overwrought with my own thoughts and only ended up having a couple of hours sleep. I know this affected yesterday’s run. We had planned for Mum to meet us there, so I called her en-route to discover she had forgotten that the clocks had changed and was still in her dressing gown! I didn’t expect her to make it and when she was there at the 2k mark to give me a kiss, I couldn’t have been more shocked. I cried and the emotion physically attacked every particle in my body. Game over for a new 10k PB and I knew it.


Runners high or runners cry

At the start and crossing the timing mat, my heart skipped a few beats, those butterflies, the hope, the anticipation. I knew I had started well as I felt as if I was almost flying past people. One mile in and my new TomTom Cardio 3 running watch  gave me a time of 6 minutes 32 seconds. Whoo! A new mile PB time. 2k in 8 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. Then, I pretty much crashed and burned.

On reflection, I had got carried away and started off way too fast. By 3k, my lungs were seriously burning and I knew that if I attempted to maintain this pace, I wouldn’t complete the race. This was the crucial point where I had to weigh up what was more important and ultimately, it was to finish the race. 5k in 21 minutes and I wanted to stop. I was in serious agony. My spine felt like it was crumbling (not to be dramatic, but my spinal pain had been pretty severe in the lead up to this race). I almost gave up at the 8k mark. I didn’t get the runners high, I could only feel the tears rolling down my seriously sweaty face and every part of me ready to give up. This had been at the same point for the last 3 times on this course now and this might sound funny, but there is a field that just reminds me of dad and triggers the grief. I overcame it by imagining that he had both hands on my back and was physically pushing me to the end. I could hear his voice “Come on Caithy, come on!” I made it with an official finish time of 44.48. Yep, I was gutted. I feel guilty writing this, as I know some people would kill for that time, but I literally had my heart set on a new time.

Pace your race~lessons learned

Don’t expend all your energy in the first 5k! Researchers have found that running the first mile more than 6 percent faster than your goal race pace considerably reduces performance, so much so that almost all the subjects who started this fast failed to even finish the race. I now know why. Running just a few seconds too fast or too slow at any point in your race could change the primary energy system your body is utilising and spell disaster for a personal record attempt. To make the task more difficult, your sense of pace and effort get thrown off as adrenaline rushes through your body and your senses are altered. Running faster than your lactate threshold creates a situation where the aerobic system is unable to keep up with removing waste products that cause muscle fatigue that are being generated by anaerobic energy production. Consequently, massive fatigue sets in before the race is done. I’ve learnt the hard way.

Psychologically, it is so important to save that last push until the end line is in sight.

A day later and a medal is a medal and provides a real sense of achievement. Today, I have hung it over my bed head as a reminder of what the body and mind can achieve when you don’t give up. It’s very easy to lose perspective when you are your own competition. Today, I am more than grateful that I have arms and legs and the ability to run. I now need to learn how to control the ‘chimp chatter!’

I want to help others new to running, or who can’t break through that wall, so if you have any questions or future blog suggestions, please give me a shout on here or on any of my social media.


For now, Good night and God bless.

Caithy x

Wearing Adidas climate control running top and Acai Activewear Nikki print leggings. Head to acaiactivewear./ and use CAITHY10 for a discount.


1 Comment

  1. David Swales
    March 29, 2017 / 5:52 pm

    I always love reading your blog, it’s so easily readable.

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