So it is actually a topic that I have not quite fully covered, mostly because I don’t feel that there is a textbook way to be a pacer! Many times, you have to give or take a few things to be really good at pacing races. For me, it is a job I take SUPER seriously. As a part time fitness instructor, I feel like I am pretty gifted at inspiring people to do things. Sometimes, when I don’t even want to be that inspiring. You know? I actually took a personality test (for work) and found out that one of my really strong suits is that of an “influencer”. So…pacing is one thing that I think after a while I’ve kind of nailed down. Anyway, if you have been asked or are thinking of being an official pacer for a race – whether it is a half or full marathon (or even an ultra!) You have come to the right place.
Here are a few things to remember, and a few essentials you will need to get your runners (and yourself) to the finish line in the designated time.
–Confidence. OKAY. I am going to be real with you. Honestly this is the one and only thing you probably need to be a really good pacer. It is something that, with experience, you will get when it comes to racing races and doing them well. To have that confidence…that you can nail your splits, that you can hold back in the beginning when everyone wants to start out too fast…truly takes patience with ones self. And a whole heck of a lot of confidence. It is one of the main reasons why people don’t want to be pacers to be honest. To have all of that responsibility that you are helping so many people finish in that designated time? You have to go out there and OWN it. Truly.
–Be faster than your assigned finish time. This is another general MUST. You have to know, without a shadow of a doubt that you can finish under the time that has been assigned to you. I like to think of my pacing gigs as more of a training run than anything else. Because essentially, it should be slower than that of your all out race pace. So when picking a spot to pace, the pacing coordinator or director will ask you for your RECENT race finish times. That in itself should help determine what finish time you will pace.
–A GPS watch and a pace band. The pace band is something that the pace director should provide for you, but should you need one, here is a good reference. I like to really use this as a guide…but every pacer has their strategy.
–It is good to kind of brief your pace group of what that strategy will be before starting the race. If there are lots of hills on the course, that is something that you can discuss with your runners and etc.
–Whatever that plan or strategy is, stick to it – even if you find yourself (or you and your pace partner) running solo. It is easy to get caught up in what all of the runners are doing. And generally runners all around you will and ARE using you as a reference. Never forget that.
–Encourage your group by keeping a positive “can do” attitude. If someone in your group starts moaning about their pain, generally being over it….etc you should always spin it in a positive direction. They are relying on you as their upper and that person that can keep them going for a reason.
–HAVE freaking FUN with it! Pacing is such a fun position to be in and super rewarding especially when the folks in your group achieve new PRs. I still am friends with folks that I’ve paced over the years. It is such a great way to run a race differently, give back and meet new people.
Where my race PACERS at?! Any more tips for the group?