I see it all the time, posts about pace. People worried about pace, people thinking they are not fast enough…or they are too fast, or too slow…or…whatever. The thing is, pace is an individual thing, and it is determined by a few factors such as genetics, training and what you are training for.
It is easy to get caught up thinking that your pace is not great compared to the next person, especially in a community like RMA where people post their times and pictures of their watch all the time, but I am here to tell you that you need not worry a great deal about it all the time. There is a time and place for pace and for thinking about it, but I also think that sometimes it can just suck the joy right out of running when it is all that you think about. Tell yourself why you are running in the first place and why you started. I guarantee the first reason wasn’t to run a certain pace.
Getting caught up in all the gadgets of the running world has not helped in this regard and I would challenge you to stop constantly checking strava, perhaps take off your watch (or if you can’t, perhaps cover it while you run) and run blind and see just how much more enjoyable (and probably easier) your run feels.
You see, pace is something that changes. If you are going out for a tempo run, of course your pace needs to be quicker than that of a long run, and intervals will see your pace fluctuate throughout the session. I think instead of focussing so much on pace, perhaps you should focus on ‘effort’ that you run. So instead of saying to yourself that you need to stick to 8k at a pace of 5.20/km, perhaps you may already know what that roughly is going to feel like and you should try to work on how that ‘feels’ and run accordingly. This will take some practice. By doing this you become more in tune with your body and how it responds to your running, and over time you will rely less on your watch and more on the feedback that your body is giving you during a run, not to mention it will just be more enjoyable.
Running is meant to connect us to nature and our bodies, not our watches.
So I challenge you, spend at least one run a week running without looking and focus on how it feels. Perhaps join in with The Naked Runners who are advocates for ‘free running’ and get out there and enjoy the ride.