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Ironman 9: Keeping Pace

Hey there! Here’s the ninth in our series of guest post from Lance Rogerson, who has partnered up with us for his Ironman training. Read on for this week’s update.
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Greetings di’lishiNATION!  I’ll admit I was having trouble thinking of what direction to take the blog this week.  In the middle of my swim this past Friday I knew exactly what I would be writing about.  A very important lesson that we all need to learn (or be reminded of) is to pace ourselves.  Regardless of whether you are training for/competing in a race or doing a regular workout routine – knowing how to pace yourself is a very important piece of information.

At the beginning of my swim on Friday it wasn’t pretty.  We started at the south end of Wrightsville Beach planning to swim to the first bridge – a 1.7 mile swim.  My goggles kept fogging up as we started, so I fell behind the group as I was stopping to fix them.  Of course I wanted to catch up with everyone else, but I kept finding myself out of breath and I just couldn’t manage to get going.  I thought to myself, “this is going to be my worst swim I’ve ever had and that bridge is a long ways away.”  I kept struggling.  Then I finally decided not to worry about what everyone else was doing and do my swim, not theirs.  I settled into a nice pace and I hit my stride.  I must admit I was surprising myself at how well I was doing.  I just kept going and going.  About a mile in I knew I had found my perfect pace. I was swimming well and was not running out of breath and therefore needing to do some rest strokes.  It happened when I quit worrying about what everyone else was doing and just did my own swim.

It is the same concept for any workout routine, pacing it being of the utmost importance.  I want to be sure to point out here that by pacing yourself I do not mean setting an easy pace that doesn’t challenge you.  I mean finding that sweet spot that allows you to challenge and push yourself, but also keeps you from going so hard that you have to stop before you have gotten in the proper workout.  Let’s look at weight lifting.  Lets say you are on the bench press.  You aren’t going to do your absolute max every time – you wouldn’t be able to get a good workout.  You pace yourself by doing less weight; in the end, the pacing increases your max.

Pacing yourself is also important on race day.  It’s easy at a big race to want to go off the starting line at full throttle.  This will most likely result in you burning yourself out.  For example, if you are doing a ½ marathon and you can do a pace of a 9:30 mile, you don’t start out at that pace.  You want to start a little slower than your pace, let yourself get nice and warmed up, hit your stride and you’ll make up that time.  I always see people taking off from the start of a race and then a mile or so in they are doubled over sucking air.

Whenever you are training or working out, keep in mind that you don’t have to go for Olympic gold every single day.  Pace yourself and you’ll find much greater gains in much less time.