Blog header - Pace yourself, how to judge your pace

Pace Yourself! How to learn good pace judgement

Blog header - Pace yourself, how to judge your pace

Ever started a race too fast and really struggled towards the end? Do you always start your runs at a pace that makes you feel exhausted? Do you find it difficult to keep your pace during a steady or tempo run? Then here are three workouts that can help you to learn good pace judgement.

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It can be hard to judge your pace, especially for newer runners, but good pace judgement is an essential part of running and it’s important to learn this without being reliant on a GPS watch. Good pace judgement can stop you from setting off too fast during a race, can help you keep an even speed throughout the race meaning you conserve your energy and your form.

You don’t need any fancy gadgets or virtual pacers for these workouts, just a stopwatch or a timer. Remember to warm up before starting the workouts and a good cool down to follow.

Out and Back

One of the easiest ways to learn how to feel your pace is with a simple out and back run.

To do this, run for a set amount of time (say 15 minutes), then turn around and run back the same way. You should reach your destination in exactly the same time but if you don’t you know you have ran too fast or too slow! Try this a few times to get a feel if you are running too fast for the first half or if you slow down in the second half.

Out and Back but Faster!

Once you can make it out and back in the same time try for a faster return. This will help you to pace your first half to help you speed up for your second half. So if you run out for 15 minutes try to run back in 14 or 13 minutes.

For both of these Out and Back workouts I recommend trying to find a route which is fairly flat. Small undulations are fine but any big hills may hinder you as you try to keep the same pace both up and down the hill.

Varied Pace Workout

This is a really good workout to learn the difference between paces and how to maintain the set pace. It’s good if you can do this at a running track but if not find a loop in a park or a route around the block that is approximately 400m. With this workout it is important to rest for 1-3 minutes between each repeat, or until you get your breath back whichever is longest.

  1. Run 400m at a steady pace, this is a pace at an effort that is more than an easy run but still within your comfort zone. You could keep this pace for a longer run but your conversation may not be flowing.
  2. Now run 800m at the same pace. You should run this 800m in double the time you ran 400m, give or take a second or two. So if you ran 400m in 3 minutes you should run 800m in 6 minutes
  3. Run 200m at a tempo pace, a pace where if you were asked a question you could reply in short sentences and it feels like an effort. You are aiming to run this quicker than the time you ran 800m divided by 4, so if you ran 800m in 6 minutes you want to run 200m quicker than 90 seconds.
  4. Half the time you ran 200m and now run 100m quicker than that time at a threshold pace (where if you were asked a question you could reply in one or two words. It is a hard effort but is not your maximal speed). So if you ran 200m in 80 seconds you want to run 100m in less than 40 seconds.
  5. Now repeat steps 3, 2 and 1 aiming for exactly the same time for each repeat.

If you record your times for each step you can then use them as a benchmark for when you repeat the workout in the future.

These three simple workouts can really help you learn how to feel your pace rather than being reliant on your GPS watch, which can help you finish your races strong.

I am linking up with Marcia’s Healthy Slice, My No-Guilt Life and MCM Mama Runs for their Tuesdays on the Run linkup and the Running Coaches’ Corner with Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs where running coaches come together and share the best running advice, tips, trends, etc.

Leave a Comment


  • Lacey@fairytalesandfitness

    I have a hard time doing pace workouts. Like when they say race pace or easy run. I run the same pace always when I train. I’m sure if I incorporated more interval and speed training it would help.

    • Nicola

      It is really hard! You should try and out and back but faster run. See if that makes a difference and then build on that.

  • Taking the Long Way Home

    When I was training for my marathons, I worked on pace training. I did well with it, but as soon as I lined up to race, all that training was for naught! I will say that my run walk intervals have really kept me steady.

    • Nicola

      It’s so hard to keep it together at a race. All that adrenaline and other people just don’t help!

  • MCM Mama

    I did a pretty good job this summer figuring out pacing. I may not always be the same speed at the same effort, but I’ve figured out what effort I can maintain for different distances.

    • Nicola

      That’s great. And you have to remember that the effort is the effort on the day, so some days you may be slower with the same effort, especially if you’ve had a busy day!

  • Marcia

    I love these workouts! In my experience as a coach, many people struggle with finding “their gears” and default to the same pace all the time. I agree with you that speed intervals are very effective.

    • Nicola

      Same here. I always recommend trying a Fartlek run or just a “sprint” finish just to play around with the “gears”.

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