Running Races with Pacers

Hello! How’s your Wednesday going?! I only have one afternoon client so my day has been quiet after this morning’s work and 2 breakfasts Smile 

I am totally a morning person though and love the morning shift. I actually feel better all day when I’m up and at ‘em early!

I missed my lunch salad bucket yesterday when I forgot to pick up Rebecca romaine. So, I made a special trip for it on the way home last night. The protein component of today’s lunch was a leftover turkey burger. I heated it with onions to make them a tiny bit milder (especially because I use half a pound!).IMG_9939 (800x533)

I left that on the bottom and piled greens, dressing and chips on top! Size does matter Winking smileIMG_9942 (800x533)

IMG_4298 (800x600)I am only a week and some days away from my marathon (F word!) and thinking about my race pace and goals and pacers. So, this question I got from a reader today is perfect timing…

I am running my first half-marathon in 11 days (October 9) and was wondering what your thoughts were on pace bunnies or pacers?

I discovered on the weekend when I ran a 10K fun run that I have a tendency to get caught up in the craziness of a crowd and therefore started way too fast and fizzled at the end. There will be pacers available for my race (the Okanagan Marathon in Kelowna, BC, Canada) and I think it will be wise, at least at the beginning of the race, to stay with a group. Have you ever followed a pacer or pace group in a race before? Thoughts?

I am notorious BIG for starting out too fast! And I don’t just do it with the crowds on race day – I start out too fast on many many long runs too Sad smile 

So, I totally believe in pace groups and think they’re awesome. Last year at Long Beach I lined up by the pace group I wanted to stick with before the start.  I got too excited and just took off away from them after the gun. Turns out they caught up with me at mile 17 and proceeded to pass my broken down azz tired legs. I might have been able to stay with them if I wouldn’t have went out too fast, I will never know for sure – so there’s that.

But, I am a solo runner. It’s just a weird Rain Man quirk I have, so running with a pace group (or anyone else ever) is foreign to me. However, I am considering running with a pace group for my next race. That final decision will come on race morning, depending on how I feel.

Have you ever used a pace group? Had someone pace you in a race?


  1. says

    I have ran with a pacer once before for a quarter marathon. I really enjoyed it. They have a way to keep the conversation going and keeping you point. I would recommend it. Our pacer did a great job.

    Sadly, I was not able to stay with them. :[ I just was not prepared for the race. But I stayed with them for the first 3.5 miles and I really liked it. I wish I would have been able to stay with them longer.

  2. Kristie says

    I ran my first marathon with a pacer and LOVED it. But, I also think I struck gold with the woman who was pacing because she was awesome. Definite pros – the pacers are really inspiring people who rock at the distance you are running, they are encouraging & creative at distracting you in later miles, and if you don’t want to talk, they don’t make you talk. At least that’s my experience. And they’ll often encourage you to move ahead of them if they think you can in the last 10k of a marathon (or last 5k in a half, etc.). So yeah, I’m a fan :).

  3. Ida says

    I think pacers can be great early in the race to keep you from going out too fast, but pacers run one pace the entire time. It’s better to try and negative split. So I would say start with a pace group that is 5-10min slower than your race goal, and after a 8-12 miles leave them.
    Also pace groups can get really large and can be annoying to run with- though people do tend to drop off as the race goes on.

    • Linda says

      This is so interesting! The pacers in the races I’ve done (all half-marathon) have all done negative splits – they’re all part of a running company in town that has a specific running strategy. They have a set goal time, not a goal pace, and they usually start slow and pick up the pace later.

  4. says

    I have yet to successfully run with a pacer, besides my own boyfriend, but that doesn’t count because he’d slow down for me. Still got me through faster than I would have!

    I might employ pacing at my next marathon in Nov, but I will be like you and decide that morning.

  5. says

    I’m running the half marathon at the Okanagan Marathon too! For my third half marathon I ran with the pace group for most of the race. The leader happened to be from my running group so it was a nice change from trying to pace myself. I think they can be useful if you want to be nice and steady.

  6. Christine@ BookishlyB says

    I love that you said “f word.” Have you seen Fantastic Mr. Fox? He says “cuss” instead of the profanity. Hilarious/asused easily.

    I’m a solo runner too. I’m cool with the occasional social run, but the idea of feeling forced to stay with people, or keep up with them, would not be something I’d look forward to.

  7. says

    I love running solo for races too and I have never actually used a pacer. I always go out way too fast….I think I need to start using them. Girl, I am STOKED for you. I heard the oatmeal cookie froyo at Yland is the best way to carload for a marathon!

  8. says

    I think pacers would really help me… I have a horrible time pacing myself right now! Also, is it weird that I thought of you today & wished to share my orange watermelon with you? I sliced into the juiciest melon ever today and thought, Monica would love this :)

  9. says

    Pacers can be AMAZING…as long as they are good pacers. I have ran with pacers for 2 of my 4 half marathons and the first two were from the same local running company and were amazing! They were encouraging, energetic, pushed me, but I didn’t feel attached to them if I didn’t want to be. I ran a half this past Sunday and I’m glad I didn’t stay with them because the pacers were awful. The 2:25 pacers finished before the 2:20 pacers and there weren’t any pacers under 2:00 or anything from 2:00-2:15 pacers! Research who is supposed to be pacing the race and go from there, if they are good they can help make your race!

  10. says

    I am also a “solo” runner. Very rarely do anything beyond 3 or 4 miles with someone else. But I have wondered if being near a pace group would be enough. I can tune out their chatter and maybe just follow the flag? Or is that considered rude?

    The Kidless Kronicles

  11. says

    When I was starting to struggle around mile 16 of my first marathon I had a pacer with a small group catch up to me and he actually talked me up and tried to get me to keep up with them. I did pretty well for awhile until my foot thing happened… I think I might try to start by a pace group next weekend, only because I’m afraid I’ll start too fast!!

  12. says

    Sometimes pacers use different strategies to reach the prescribed pace, like one will use the Galloway (walk/run) method, some use negative splits, some go completely even. Be sure they fit with your specific training before you choose one.

    Also, realize they are human and may not always nail the pace you want and may be minutes slow or fast. Hubby stuck with a pacer for his 3:10 marathon for the first five miles, and then the guy got distracted and was running too slow so he latched on to a few other guys that WERE going the right pace. Once he realized it, the pacer picked it up, basically leaving EVERYBODY in his group behind.

    But pacers have great stories, that can help pass the time while busting your butt. :)

  13. says

    I think they might be a good idea. You could always start out with one and see how it goes.

    Can I ask how it came to be that your are running Kelowna?

  14. says

    a pacer absolutely unequivocally helped me finish my first marathon. hands down. without him, i would have never crossed the finish line. i ran with the pacer not for time but for motivation and commiseration lol. i ran with him mile 18-the end and it really was amazing :) would i run with a pacer again? yes, if i needed to toward the end, but i do enjoy running alone and would probably try that at the beginning like i did on my first.

  15. Emily W says

    I haven’t used a pacer… but I paid close attention to my Garmin during my half marathon because I, too, tend to start off fast. My race last weekend I took it extra slow in the beginning and ended up running negative splits through the race.

  16. says

    I can see how a pacer would be motivational and in my first half marathon last May, I got kind of lonely at some points and that’s when I started questioning myself. It wasn’t a huge race and the runners were all pretty spread out, I think the pack mentality would have worked in my favor…maybe. I also worry that I would lose the pacer and that would cause me to lose my mojo.

  17. says

    I started Palm Beach with a pace group. I ran with the pace group for the first 5 miles, then went ahead at a water station that I didn’t need to stop at. From then on my goal was to stay in front of the pace group. Nothing motivated me more in the last mile than seeing the old guy holding the 4:00 sign closing in on my behind. I kept thinking “Must. Not. Let. Him. Pass. Me.” and he didn’t! I actually thanked the pace guy for giving me all the motivation I needed to not give up at the end.

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