Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

Three smart tips for long distance running pacing

4 min read

When it comes to running the longer the race the more important the pacing. In a middle distance race there is less time and therefore less time to survive if you get it wrong. In a marathon or ultra-distance race this isn’t the case, it could be literally hours.

The most common pacing mistakes is going out too hard and your performance suffering towards the end. If you’ve trained well for a race you should have an expectation of running your best race. Smart pacing means executing you best race and reaching your expectations but this takes discipline and commitment throughout the race. 

Running to your goal pace will become more difficult as the race progresses and you become fatigued. The goal isn’t to run faster at the end but to not slow down as you fatigue and continue at an even pace.


In every long distance race there is always a lot of time to push hard. Save yourself for when you will need to push hard. There is plenty of time to make yourself hurt no need to rush it.

            Regardless of your ability be patient. There is a long time before you need to be competitive. Whether this be competing for the race win, your personal bests or simply getting to the finish. Marathons and ultras don’t start till well after half way, stay focussed on being patient and remember there is plenty of time left to unleash your competitive juices on the unsuspecting competition or at very least run your best to the finish.

In the first half of your race stay patient and focussed on your pace. It should feel easy, if it doesn’t slow the f##k down.


From kilometre one of a marathon or ultra-marathon till the end you should be mentally engaged on the task at end. Remember, you’ve trained long and hard for this race so focus on your performance to get the best result for yourself.

If you ignored the first piece of advice then there is still time before its too late. You generally can’t become uncooked once you are cooked but you can certainly warn of the signs of fatigue if you are mentally engaged in the process of pacing.

From the outset stay mentally engaged on being patient and aware. Be aware that the effort you are giving shouldn’t feel too hard, you should feel comfortable in these moments and even feel like you are running too slowly. Be confident that you aren’t. 

During the middle stages of your race stay mentally engaged on being disciplined and committed to the cause. Keep your focus, if you feel like giving a greater effort…wait. There is plenty of time left to push hard. This middle third of any race is a time when fatigue is starting but you still be running relatively comfortable. It’s vital to wait and stay patient.

Nearing the end of the race you must stay mentally engaged in order to give your best effort. In any long race you’ll need to give your best effort at this stage, make sure you are engaged and ready. Now is the time when your effort will reap the rewards.


In the later stages of a long race you’ll feel fatigue and running will your goal pace will hurt. When it’s time to hurt, let it hurt. You’ve trained hard over months for this race, you trained for the hurt, and you expected it to hurt. Be prepared for it to hurt and to give your best effort.

The most vital part of this stage is in tip 2. When it hurts you must be mentally engaged and prepared to fight to give your best effort. It is very easily at this point to drop your mental focus and give into fatigue. 

If you’ve smartly paced your race to this point you’ll have given yourself the best chance to run a well-balanced race. You’ll have given yourself the best chance to minimise the hurt you’ll face in getting this race done, but you’ll still need to give it all you’ve got.

Be ready and prepared for the hurt. Think of your training and the hard long runs and workouts you’ve completed to get yourself fit and ready to race. This is what the training was all for and if you can run strongly through the hurt you’ll get to the finish and hopefully have met your expectations.

By pacing your race smart you not only give yourself the best chance meeting your personal goals and expectations but also feel satisfied that you ran the race to the bets of your ability.

A poorly paced race can often leave expectations on the course. If you cooked early and couldn’t give your best effort you won’t feel as satisfied as running strongly knowing you gave it your best effort.

In long distance races, pacing is pivotal to your result. Give your pacing strategy some thought prior to the race and be ready on race day.

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