The Art of Pacing
Over the past year I have had the opportunity to pace twice, and to have a pacer once, and I must say that I find as much satisfaction being the pacer as the runner being paced. Helping someone cross the finish line of a 100 mile race is an amazing experience that keeps me motivated for my own training.
A few things I have learned in my first few years of ultra bliss:
1. The pacer should always smile and encourage. This lets your runner know that everything WILL be all right, even though it might not feel that way at the moment.
2. The pacer should be in the shape necessary to complete his/her assigned mileage. This race is not about you, or your nutrition inadequacies, or your aches or pains. Make sure that you take care of yourself and are strong enough to focus only on your runners needs.
3. Always ask your runner if they think they can run a bit more. If they say no, be prepared to walk as fast as possible.
4. Sometimes it’s good to take the lead, and let them hang on to your rope.
5. Sometimes it’s good to let them lead, so they feel in control.
6. Sometimes it’s good to stand beside your friend, pat them on the back, and let them know that you think they are amazing.
7. Find out what your runner needs before hitting the aid station and help them get it if the race allows. Bring them food options- they may say yes to that boiled potato with extra salt this time.
8. Be prepared to defend your runner’s weight loss or gain by letting the medical workers know that your runner is competent, peeing and doing fine. Help them sneak out of the aid station when the medical personnel are not looking. (If they really are fine).
9. They may not care about their time goal right now, but they will when the race is over. Keep reminding them if they are close, it could be the kick in the butt that gets them moving faster.
10. Let them be mad at you today- they will thank you tomorrow.