Why Pace is Important for Running

Pace training provides enormous advantages for athletes. In fact, there are so many advantages to this technique, that professional runners and even Olympic athletes use this method.
Why Pace is Important for Running

Last update: 14 October, 2018

The technique referred to in Swedish as, fartlek, (the game of speed), implies running for a certain period of time or distance at a specific speed that’s reduced or increased as needed. That is, speed up the pace whenever possible, and slow it down when you need to rest.

It’s also beneficial for runners to vary the terrain, and include steep slopes and practicing in different climates. Thus, the benefits of this method of training can be combined in various scenarios.

The main argument with this technique is the ability to manage your efforts. By increasing speed, you make more physical work and increase your ability. However, rather than having to work towards a goal that seems unattainable, you can modify the workout based on how you feel.

Benefits of pace for runners

Man running at pace.

Some of the main advantages of this method of training include:

  • Greater aerobic capacity.
  • Less effort is required to complete the race.
  • It allows for progress: it prevents the body from getting used to a constant rhythm and it demands a greater effort.
  • Beginners in running will have a good idea of their limits and know what shortcomings to improve.
  • The body adapts to new challenges and looks for ways to efficiently manage energy.
  • The runner learns to interpret their body’s signals. Then, in the event of having to change strategy during a race, the runner will have the experience to do so.
  • Muscular resistance: the body learns to recycle the lactic acid and thus delays the onset of fatigue.
  • It fights monotony and prevents training from becoming routine and boring.

What do I need to train like this?

First of all, having a coach to help with your training is always a good idea. This will provide you with a professional vision on how to proceed when implementing pace changes.

On the other hand, it goes without saying that this technique requires two fundamental attitudes:

1. Maximum effort: the purpose of changing your pace when running is to enhance your physical performance, not to shorten the training time. Speeding up and varying intensity and distance in each session is good practice.

For the fartlek technique to give optimal results, you must make sure that you give it your all. The key to self-improvement is challenging your limits. It’s not enough to be better than others and it does not matter if others are better than us: it’s about being the best version of yourself.

2. Personal truth: hand in hand with the above, it’s necessary that we know our body and be honest with ourselves. Avoiding and ignoring our limits could lead to undesirable results or, worse, injury.

That is why a coach can be helpful, by interpreting the results of your training in an unbiased manner.

How to implement pace

Woman implementing pace and running outdoors.

There are different techniques to implement pace changes when running. Logically, they all include a corresponding warm-up before increasing the pace.

One technique involves 10 strides – counted on one leg – at a good pace, and another 10 at a moderate pace. Then, repeat the same, but with 20 strides. The idea is to go up from 10 strides, by intervals of 10 strides, to reach 100 strides at each speed. Once you’ve done this and if you have any breath left, you can decrease your stride with the same technique.

On the other hand, you can also increase the pace until you run out of breath, and keep that same pace for a period of three to six minutes. Then, jog until you recover your breath almost completely, and repeat the previous process.

If you’re able, repeat this for 25 or 30 minutes. Don’t worry if you still don’t have that much resistance. Remember, that’s why we are pace training!

How often should you do pace training?

Coaches recommend doing it once a week or even twice a week. This is because it’s a very demanding method and, as we mentioned earlier, it can generate muscular injuries if not done correctly.

In conclusion, pace training can lead to great progress if you have plateaued in your training. In addition, it’s an excellent way to do different workouts and break the monotony. This is exactly what your body and your mind needs from time to time. Don’t hesitate to apply it and compare the results with your previous performance to evaluate its effectiveness.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.