Have you ever wondered whether or not you should run with a pace group during a race?
Pace groups are offered at many races throughout the country. My local running club, the New York Road Runners, offers pace groups for all races that are 13.1 miles in length or longer.
Running with a pace group might sound like a safe way to nail your race day goal, but it’s not always the best option.
If you’re trying to decide whether or not to run your fall race with a pace group, I’m here to help. Below is a good old fashioned pro and con list of running with a pace group.
- Starting the race at a controlled pace can help prevent you from starting out too fast.
- You’ll be surrounded by runners that have the same time goal you have.
- Teamwork makes the dreamwork.
- A good pace leader is encouraging and can cheer you up when you’re feeling a bit down.
- You don’t have to stress about what pace you are running. Just follow the leader.
- If your GPS watch isn’t working and you depend upon it for nailing your pace, you can rest assured you’ll be running the pace you need to run.
- Pace groups generally run even splits. If this isn’t a part of your race day plan and you plan to run a negative split, you won’t be able to run with the group for the entire race.
- It’s crowded and hard to see objects on the road in front of you.
- If you’re having a bad day and can’t keep up with the pace group, it is very difficult to stay mentally strong when the group pulls ahead of you.
- Water stops are more difficult to manage when you’re running in a big pack.
- Getting separated from the group for any reason can cause a sense of panic if you don’t have a back-up race strategy in place.
- Pace group leaders are human and have bad days too. If your pace leader is running too fast or too slow you won’t hit your race goal.
Personally, I don’t love running with pace groups. However, I do think they can be useful and right for some runners.
A good way to use a pace group is to start the race with a pace group that’s running slightly slower than your goal time, then when it’s time for you to pick up the pace as per your race strategy you can leave the group behind and run ahead.
I hope if you’re contemplating running with a pace group anytime soon that you find this list helpful.