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It's all about the pace...

by John Levison
Monday 16th March 2015

John Levison, editor of our sister site Tri247, points out that 'Hope' isn't a very good way to approach your race pace and gives examples of some outstanding pacing:

Watch Alexander Holley from Run Dem Crew (www.rundemcrew.com) do a great job as pacer of the 1:30 group at the inaugural edition of the Vitality North London Half Marathon on Sunday 15th March 2015.

Like several events now, Sunday's Vitality North London Half Marathon featured the addition of 'pacer' runners, designed to help athletes achieve particular goal times and perhaps breakthrough previously difficult to reach landmarks.

I'm a big believer in proper pacing being the best way to achieve your best performance, and while these days my own pace (speed) may be somewhat slower than it was 'back in the day', my personal pacing ability is still something I consider a strength. I definitely finish ahead of fitter / faster athletes in races simply because I'm better able to understand my current limits (and forecast accurately based off of my training)... and then execute a plan to produce that on race day, rather than relying on hope. 'Hope' doesn't feel like a very good way to achieve a target to me, especially when there is plenty of hard evidence and logic you can apply to make the best of your day!

I've written about pacing before on Run247, notably in this piece from the London Marathon 2012, where veteran athlete Victoria Perry ran one of the most impressive marathons I've seen from an amateur athlete, to win her age category in London... for the seventh time!

That's great as an individual, but when you are in the role of the pacer, the pressure is switched up further. Not only are you focussing on your own plan, but your ability to deliver that plan in the most consistent manner will also impact on the potentially hundreds of runners around you that are putting their faith in your skills and following that banner you are carrying, with the belief that you will 'get them around' on time. We've all got things wrong in races and moved on... but as a pacer, you also have that additional responsibility/pressure of potentially messing up many more plans than your own.

One of the pacers on Sunday was Alexander Holley from Run Dem Crew (www.rundemcrew.com). Alexander was a pacer for the one hour 30 minutes mark on Sunday, a time many good club athletes target but fail to meet... and often due to pacing, rather than fitness. Well... Alexander did a great job! As you can see on this video, he crossed the line with a big smile on his face bang on the 1:30:00 mark on the race clock.

His (official) 'gun time' was 1:30:02, and having started just back from the start line, those few seconds until crossing the timing mat meant an official finishing 'chip' time of 1:29:48.

Are you close, but struggling to beat the 1:30 barrier? Well, perhaps keep a look out for Alexander at your next event and hop on the 'Holley Express' to the finish line!



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