Woman doing warm ups and stretching with her leg raised to the bridge before the morning run with the sunrise in the background - Tifosi Sports

How to find your perfect running pace

Any runner knows that pacing is everything. Start a race off too quickly, and you’ll wear yourself out too soon. Start too slow, and you’ll be left cold by your finishing time. The key to finding a pace that is manageable and most efficient for you lies in training your body to get into the groove almost as if it is second nature.

One way to do this is to use the “magic mile” approach.

Undertaking a “magic mile” time trail in the run-up to your next race will go a long way in helping you to find a pace that suits you, but still challenges you to push for a better time.

Two-week time trials

Start off by finding a mile-long flat surface to start finding your pacing on. If you’re using a track to run on, four laps should be roughly equivalent to a mile.

You’ll want to warm up a little with a three to four-minute walk, followed by running the mile at a speed that is a bit faster than you normally run. You don’t have to go all out, but should aim for a speed that leaves you quite breathless at the end.

Record your time, and use it as a benchmark to determine a pace that is appropriate for daily runs at your current fitness levels. Do this time trial every two weeks or so, trying to beat your previous time.

Slow down on daily runs

Once you’ve established your mile time, try to keep your daily runs two or three minutes slower than the time you recorded for your mile. This pace should have you running comfortably, without getting too out of breath.

To calculate for a 5k run, simply add 33 seconds to your mile time, or multiply that number by 1.15 if you’re going on a 10-kilometre run. Your perfect pace is one that doesn’t wear you out, but rather leaves you feeling relaxed, comfortable, and ready for more.

In a race, the most important thing is to maintain perfect pace throughout. While your nerves might lead to you bursting away too quickly at the start, the best way to monitor your pace is to run with a running tracker – either in a wearable or on your phone. Clock in at every mile or kilometre, taking care that you are maintaining a steady pace throughout the race.

If your wearable also has a heart rate monitor, even better. Should you notice a spike in your heart rate at any stage of a run, try to ease up a little, even if you are maintaining the pace you’ve gotten used to.

If you are just starting out your running journey, finding the correct pacing will ensure that you are able to go the distance consistently, without pushing yourself to the brink of injury or exhaustion.

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