Learning to pace yourself is difficult but it is also one of the most important skills for runners because the only way you can run for longer is by learning to run slowly.

Remember that there is no such thing as too slow.

I cannot stress this point enough! In fact, most of you are probably going too fast. If running feels hard and painful, you’re going too fast. You should find a pace that feels right for you, it should be comfortable, you shouldn’t be panting and you should always feel like you’d be able to keep up a conversation while running.

It can be hard to understand how slow you can and should go so on Running Made Easy I always challenge our runners to run as slow as possible at least once. Try to run at a pace where you do not get out of breath. It is possible! Start at walking speed, even slower. When you do get out of breath, slow down!

Once you find your ‘bottom speed’ you can start adding a little extra to it.


Why is it so important to start slowly?

Because your body needs time to warm up! When you are sedentary, only 15-20% of your blood flows through your muscles – during vigorous exercise this increases to 80- 85%. It takes time for this to happen and that’s why it’s important to start slowly as your muscles are not ready yet. 
This is why the first 10 minutes of running are always the hardest, no matter what level you’re at.

To warm up properly, aim start slower than you finish. When you pace yourself right, you should be able to pick up speed as you go along, not the other way around. 
Focus on your breathing for the first 10-15 minutes – this will help you warm up faster.

Using a running watch or an app

A running watch can be a great help. When you finish your run, you can download your data and see how your pace varied throughout your run. Here’s what to do:

  • Let’s say your starting pace was 7min/km and your finished at 8min/km.
  • Next time you go for a run, keep an eye on your pace. Start at 8min/km – make sure you do not go any faster for the first half of your run. (note: this will feel VERY slow, but be patient!)
  • After 10-15 minutes you can start speeding up. Go for 7.30min/km first and then 7min/km if you have it in you.
Remember that it takes practice! You will learn how to pace yourself through trial and error.

NOTE: If you’re a beginner, I would recommend you only use a running watch or an app to help you get your pacing right. Do not become a slave to it, as happens so easily. You should learn to enjoy running and not care about pace and distance, so it’s better to run without one most of the time. If you wear a running watch every time, you will want to see your pace and distance improve over time, even if you ay you don’t, but this need to achieve and constantly improve is so ingrained in us that it is hard to let go of it.  Wear it when you need it, other times just enjoy running, letting off steam, relaxing and moving

Ready to start running (slowly)?

Start the easy way with Running Made Easy