Leading the pack of half-marathon runners? This is the same question I’ve been asking myself countless of times ever since I accepted the challenge to be one of the official pacers for the 1st Quezon City International Marathon. Not an easy feat considering that it will be my first time to be a pacer in a race.
But there is no turning back now as it is a privilege and an honor to bring you fellow runners to the finish line, of course; with the help of Gab as co-leader.
I did my first half-marathon last year during the Adidas King of the Road race with Wilbert at my side while running along with Bobby and Sensei John T. It was a no-fuss-run, meaning, to just finish the whole stretch of the half-marathon. It was just us. No pacer.
Pacers lead runners across the finish line, target the overall group goal and not the personal goal, and look out for the welfare of all. A pacer is a leader, coach, cheerleader, psychiatrist, etc. To be a pace-group leader in the upcoming QCIM half-marathon next weekend is quite a big responsibility. My only concern though is how can I be an effective cheerleader of the group when I, myself, is not a talker while running? How glad I was to read some articles about perfect pacing experience. I got these DOs and DON’Ts guide from Runner’s World magazine.
Nice Pacing: How to Behave (And Not) in a Group
Having the perfect pacing experience depends on who’s leading the way, of course; but you also bear some responsibility to yourself, to the leader, and to the rest of your group.
Do make sure you’re in the right place.
It means you know your time goal. If it’s too fast for you then opt for the slower one.
Don’t run ahead.
Let’s accept it. There are just some runners who want to show to the world how fit they are by running ahead.
Bad move. If you want to lead the pack, then leave the pack.
Do take your cues from runners
This one I like. This defends my case.
Some groups are quiet, others chatty. Same goes for the leader-some will offer encouragement, others focus quietly. Nothing wrong with the friendly “how you feeling?”-but don’t become a Blowhard Bob.
Don’t expect the pack to cater to your needs; but if you have to stop, don’t panic.
Take care of your business, then take your time catching up to your group.
Do give the leader space.
No need for me to explain it, right?
Running an even pace is the way to go. But with more practice, one can learn to run the second half of the races faster than the first. This is what they call “negative splits.”
Why is an even or negative-split pace works better? Firstly, it gives our body time for a good warm up by preparing the muscles for the activity. Just like how you start your car efficiently. Once your muscles are ready, you can maintain the same pace or increase it with not much effort. It’s also important to avoid being pulled by fast runners that you become one of them at the start. Remember, a fast start means a significant decrease of performance as you go back.
To some running a certain distance may come as a piece of cake but that is totally different to most who are either running a half or full marathon for the first time.
Over lunch today a friend of mine, an experienced runner, even said, “two more weeks and it’s full marathon for me!” and it was followed by a long sigh. See? Even an experienced runner do feel anxious. Just like you and me. Why is this so? May be because we are not so sure of the outcome. Okay so you’ve been training hard. Sometimes struggling. At other times succeeding but the whole time it’s in your head. “Am I really ready for it?” “What am I getting myself into?” “I didn’t have much time for training.” Do you think I can do it?” May be these are some of the questions playing in your mind. It’s all there in your head. But mind you even experienced runners are probably thinking the same way many times over especially that race day is fast coming.
What I am trying to say here is that we all have goals. Mine right now is to lead runners across the finish line and at the same time achieving their target time goal of 2:30 (in hours). How about you?
Marathon is competitive that’s why it’s called a race. So you want to race, eh? If you think you are then my next question would be, “Are you ready or still feeling a bit nervous?” They say if you are feeling this pre-race anxiety, it only means one thing. You are just mentally and physically preparing yourself for the race. The ultimate test is race day itself.
Ey, no worries, OK? You’ve been training hard for this. Why worry? To conquer fear is to embrace itself. Go back to your goal and focus. Be realistic with your goal. Focus is the main ingredient towards a successful marathon. Just like any event there are just things that are beyond our control. If things don’t happen the way you want it to be, don’t be disappointed. Instead prepare yourself for it. Don’t forget to relax and have some fun while running. Being too serious ruins the experience. Remember you’re already a winner by signing up for a race.
See you at the starting line!