Privileges of Pacing

By: Brian Elder

This weekend at the Athens Half Marathon I had the privilege to pace. If you're thinking I was one of the runners at the start line holding a massive sign or neon shirt with a finish time on it, let me explain because that is not the type of pacing that I did. Instead of pacing a group of people, I paced a guy that I run with throughout the week that was running the race. I need to start by saying that the runner who I paced is much faster than I am! Because I knew that I could not keep up with his pace for the entire race, I volunteered to help him run his best time by pacing him for the last four miles when he was going to be struggling to maintain the effort that he started with. Luckily I am very familiar with this race course because I ran it last fall so this allowed me to be able to meet him at mile 9 to begin at 5:45 mile pace. This experience was extremely different from anything I have ever done and I would encourage anyone to do it because the feeling of supporting a friend through a race and PR was incredible! Below I have listed my thoughts and many of the positives I got to experience as I paced a fast runner and friend. 

  • First, I only had to run 5 miles! He ran 13.1! That is always a plus if you do not feel like running that far. 
  • I got to sleep late! No worrying about waking up at 5:30AM!
  • No worrying about what to eat the morning before a race! I ate a good breakfast. 
  • I was able to fit in a tempo workout during the week that I missed on Monday.
  • I freed his mind from worrying about his pace so that he could focus on his running form and breathing. 
  • In the words of the guy I paced: "You gave me a second wind." You could see the pain on his face subside knowing he had a friend to help him along the last few miles. 
  • I was able to break the wind resistance. This may not seem like a big deal, but over 13.1 miles you exert a lot more energy if you are running alone versus if you tuck in behind someone else!
  • I was able to help a friend reach a PR (He ran a 1:16:08 half marathon! Super fast!)

Running connected does not have to be something that you do only with friends or co-workers throughout the week, it can be something that you do even if it is on the day of a race!

Brian Elder is a learner, amateur explorer, and nomadic runner that is going to run until it takes him somewhere. He is a senior at the University of Georgia studying English and Religion.  After running competitively on trails and roads, he fuels with an appetite so big you would swear it’s competitive.  Follow Brian on Instagram.