Track/XC Running: Race Pace Contest

Track/XC Running: Race Pace Contest

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

The ability to recognize race-pace is important for all middle and long distance runners. A pace that is too slow will make it impossible to run a personal best, while a pace that is too fast will cause the athlete to fade in the latter stages of the race.

While it seldom happens in actual competitive situations, an even pace is the most physiologically efficient way to run a race.

Here is a contest that will help your athletes develop an excellent sense of race-pace.

Contest Concept
Have your athletes run a series of short intervals at a specified target pace. Deduct points for each second they finish above or below that pace.

For example, race-pace for an 800 meter runner whose goal is 2:00 would be 30.0 seconds per 200 meter. A typical pacing workout for this athlete would be 8 x 200 m in 30.0 seconds per repetition.

To make this workout into a contest, assign one demerit point for every second that your athletes run above or below 30.0 seconds. Do this after every repetition and be sure to give them feedback so they can make adjustments as the workout progresses.

For example, if they run a 31.2, they receive one point because this is more than one second off pace. If they run 27.8 they get two points because this is more than two seconds off the pace. However if they run between 29.0 and 31.0 they would get no points because they were within one second of their 30.0 race-pace.

To sweeten the pot, deduct a point from their score if they run exactly 30.0. That feat is called a bulls-eye.

At the end of the workout, the runner with the lowest number of points is the winner. Any runner who gets a bull's-eye should get special mention.

Besides making your runners concentrate on how it feels to run at the correct pace, this contest allows athletes of both sexes and all levels of ability to compete on an equal basis. Since everyone is attempting to adhere to their own individual pace, even your least talented runner can be the top-dog in this workout.

Other Sports
This concept can be used in other sports, such as swimming.

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

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