Does race pace matter?

Posted results from yesterday’s race

Today’s workout: Post race rest day

I know I sometimes get too caught up in the metrics of running and miss seeing the forest for the trees. However, I know that capturing, aggregating and analyzing performance data helps motivate me to run every chance that I get. Yesterday I was prepared to end up with a middling overall race pace once I passed the mile 1 checkpoint at 9:29. That was disappointing because I always look forward to races providing a 20-30 second per mile improvement over training paces. When I passed mile 2 I heard the race official calling out times in the 17:00’s and knew I was making my way back to goal pace. When I heard “25 minutes!”  shortly before the race-ending hill I was convinced I’d end up well below expectations. Ultimately, I did fine. Compared to the paces I’ve run recently, 8:41 is darn good. But it didn’t seem so at the time.

I know running is about health, community, experience and fun. How fast you go depends upon your physical abilities and your conditioning. But a race is really about speed and competition. Some people take a different approach and view races as an opportunity for a shared experience. Their pace and finish times don’t matter. For them, it’s about the journey, not the destination. I sometimes wish it didn’t matter whether I broke 8:30 or if I ended up in the 9:00 minute range. I know myself well enough that if it weren’t for goals, targets and PR hopes I wouldn’t work as hard to prepare for races. The health benefits I get from running come from all that work. All the same, I still enjoy a long, easy, slow run on a cool Sunday morning as much as anyone. But on race day, for me, it’s all about the numbers.

6 thoughts on “Does race pace matter?

  1. Bill M.

    Congrats! Sounds like you planned well for the hills. In cycling, to me they are always more of a psychological issue than a physical one.


  2. Agreed. What a great way to motivate, but really I am racing against myself…I mean there are some people in races whose whole life is to run, our race yesterday had a man whose job it was to be a triathelete. Who can compete to this? I mark my races mentally and discipline myself to think only aobut my goals. It is so hard however, to have peoples footsteps approaching you from behind. So frustrating to be passed! But oh… the exhilaration to watch a fellow competitor slump in their pace for you to overtake. I guessI could turn lemons into lemonaid by saying that it is my gift to others who pass me if I lose steam! LOL!


  3. I actually felt badly for the two or three runners that I passed in the closing moments of my race. I didn't pass them to count them as trophies, it was simply a matter of having more energy at the end of the race and trying to squeeze out a few less seconds in my overall time. I race against myself because if I was racing against others in my age group I wouldn't look so good!


  4. I would have to say that I am in total line with you. Races are a way, albeit fun, to test your self and to see how far you have come. What helps is to do the same race with the same outline. This will better monitor your level of running, for no 2 races are ever the same. I love the numbers, down to the nano second and exact grade. Great Post!


  5. Thanks! Every race is different but so is every run. I like that there are many variables (elevation, terrain, congestion) between race cources that share the same distance. It creates opportunities both to PR or to be frustrated!


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