Monthly Archives: January 2015

PacePal vs PacerPuru

Comparing PacePal with Puru the Pacer

Comparing PacePal with Puru the Pacer

Over the last few years, I’ve paced literally hundreds of runners to their personal best in various distances. Whether in a race as an official pace setter, or when racing myself, or during training, pacing someone to a specific target involves thinking numbers and strategy on-the-run. I shall be a pacer again at the SCMM-2015 on Sunday. Now that PacePal has gone live for Android, and provides you with a pacing strategy specifically for the SCMM-2015, it’s worth reporting on how practically accurate it is. That is what this article is about.

If you haven’t downloaded PacePal yet for your smartphone, go right ahead by clicking here and learn more about using it with the lucid writing of Sandeep Bhandarkar in his blog Do you have a plan?

The 3 articles I wrote prior to this one were also on pacing:
(i) a Pacer Guide (for the race organizer, wannabe pacer, race pacer, or the race runner)
(ii) my pacing strategy for the SCMM-2015 (half marathon 2 hour pacing group)
(iii) an intro to PacePal for the SCMM 2015

Although there’s nothing like running with a human pace setter who keeps you on track all along the race course, the benefit of PacePal is that it guides you very accurately within a tiny tolerance band on where you should be at key points along the course of the race in order to finish intelligently. Runners the world over struggle with designing a course specific pace plan. The typical online race calculator offers a single average pace for the entire race distance; in reality, this is not how you run your races, especially with changing terrain and temperature. PacePal has considered the nature of the SCMM course, the weather as well as the fitness levels of runners to help you run a smart race. PacePal’s strategy has worked accurately with runners in previous editions of SCMM. This article reports on the practical accuracy and relevance of PacePal for the SCMM half marathon and confirms that you too should come run an intelligent race at SCMM 2015 with PacePal.

Methodology

Actual time taken 1:59:07 shown in decimals

Actual time taken 1:59:07 shown in decimals

Time and distance measured by Garmin

Time and distance measured by Garmin

I was an official 2-hour pacer for the SCMM half marathon in 2013 and 2014. Using PacePal and the actual distance I ran in each of those two years, along with the actual splits from my Garmin Forerunner 305, we can compare how my run matched what PacePal would recommend.

Natural Laps – SCMM 2014
Looking at the splits for the natural laps we see directly from PacePal the various cumulative times.

PacePal's recommendation

PacePal’s recommendation

As you can see the total time is the same for both my run and what PacePal has been told. In comparing my actual times with those from PacePal we see:

SCMM 2014 - Puru vs PacePal

SCMM 2014 – Puru vs PacePal

The difference is definitely within acceptable bounds. At the start of the race, when moving a large group of runners, it’s not always easy to get through the hordes, compared with if you were running alone. That would explain the large divergence in the first natural lap. I was slightly faster in the last 6.6km compared with PacePal.

The story is similar for the year before in the SCMM 2013 half marathon.

SCMM 2014 - Puru vs PacePal

SCMM 2014 – Puru vs PacePal

What next?
The algorithm underlying PacePal is sensitive to your fitness levels based on your suggested target time and tweaks the splits accordingly. So, whether you are considerably faster than the 2-hour pacer or noticeably slower, PacePal will guide you beautifully. So go ahead and download PacePal and play around with it. And once you are done with your race, you can also compare your official race splits with what PacePal would have done.

If you have any feedback regarding PacePal, feel free to email the team at PacePal.2015@gmail.com or perhaps even leave a comment below.

Good luck with tapering and best wishes for a fun and injury free race day!

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Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.

PacePal for the SCMM 2015

PacePal – intelligent running

Introducing PacePal at the Pacer's Meet

Introducing PacePal at the Pacer’s Meet

Yes! It’s finally here! PacePal has gone live for Android. I believe that, whether or not you attended the “Pacers Meet” at the SCMM-2015 expo yesterday and heard me speak about PacePal, you must read this blog. PacePal has been designed to get you across the finish line in your target time when you race next Sunday.

Although there’s nothing like running with a human pace setter who keeps you on track all along the race course, the benefit of PacePal is that it guides you very accurately within a tiny tolerance band on where you should be at key points along the course of the race in order to finish intelligently. Runners the world over struggle with designing a course specific pace plan. The typical online race calculator offers a single average pace for the entire race distance; in reality, this is not how you run your races, especially with changing terrain and temperature. PacePal has considered the nature of the SCMM course, the weather as well as the fitness levels of runners to help you run a smart race. PacePal’s strategy has worked accurately with runners in previous editions of SCMM. You too should come run an intelligent race at SCMM 2015 with PacePal.

In a previous blog on pacing I spoke about making decisions intelligently whether you are a pacer, a race organizer or racing to a personal best. In my last blog I presented my pacing strategy for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2015, (2-hour bus for the half marathon) and some advice for you, the runner, if you are planning to be on my bus.

The bulk of runners have PacePal for success.

The bulk of runners have PacePal for success.

However, you may not want to run with a pacer or, what is highly likely, the vast majority of you will have a target time that is ‘non-standard’ e.g. 2:04 or 2:09 or even 2:20 (for which there is no human pace-setter). For that reason PacePal is a lifesaver (or at least a racesaver!).

 

Obtaining PacePal

Installing PacePal is easy

Installing PacePal is easy

There are 2 ways:
(i) Google’s Play Store for Android (recommended).
(ii) Or click on this link to download for Android (this alternative, not highly recommended, unless you want to run it on your desktop with an emulator until the iOS version is launched later this week).

Using PacePal

PacePal is easy to download, install and launch. Do read the initial screens that talk about PacePal‘s role in your race and the information on the SCMM route. The actual application is very easy to use.  Having chosen your race (the ‘half’ or the ‘full’) you can enter the target time and even tweak the distance slightly (because no race you run is bang on target distance, except by chance, because of meandering and weaving).

 

PacePal's easy input screens

PacePal’s easy input screens

Natural Laps and Target Times on PacePal

Natural Laps and Target Times on PacePal

 

PacePal has Natural Laps for the SCMM (half)

PacePal has Natural Laps for the SCMM (half)

PacePal then tells you where you should be at key points along the course based on four possible splits:
(i) natural laps (terrain specific)
(ii) halfway splits
(iii) 10km splits
(iv) 5km splits

All you need to do is click on the little mail (envelope) icon to take a screen print and email it to your computer to print out and cut out an actual wristband for your specific time (e.g. ‘2:09 for the half’).  What is neat is that if you aren’t sure if you will do a 2:09 or a 2:12, you can print and carry wristbands for both times!

PacePal- Manual Override to Tailor your Race

What is also neat is that PacePal allows you to override its suggestions to tweak segments of the race to run at a faster or slower pace. PacePal will adjust the total time accordingly. For instance you might decide to go up Peddar Road slower than PacePal‘s suggestion.

PacePal's manual override feature allows you to tailor your race strategy

PacePal’s manual override feature allows you to tailor your race strategy

Once you are done with your race, you can also go back to PacePal and check how you fared relative to PacePal‘s suggestion.

Feedback

If you have any feedback regarding PacePal, feel free to email the team at PacePal.2015@gmail.com or perhaps even leave a comment below.

Good luck with tapering and best wishes for a fun and injury free race day!

cropped-screenshot293-001.jpg

Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.

2-hour Pacing Strategy for the SCMM (Half) 2015

PacePal - intelligent running

PacePal – intelligent running

SCMM Half Marathon - Route Map

SCMM Half Marathon – Route Map

Running a race with an intelligent pacer removes the stress of keeping track of pacing and allows you to focus on various aspects of your running – breathing, gait, cadence, hydration etc. In my previous blog on pacing I spoke about making decisions intelligently whether you are a pacer, a race organizer or racing to a personal best. Guidance is extremely useful when navigating uncharted waters. A pacer in a race is a disciplined guide within an event which has performance pressure. In this article I present my pacing strategy for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2015, (2-hour bus for the half marathon) and some advice for you, the runner, if you are planning to be on my bus.

PacePal - intelligent running

PacePal – intelligent running

PacePal
Whatever be your target finishing time for the half or the full marathon at the SCMM, I advise you to check out PacePal on your smartphone when it is released for the SCMM 2015 next week (for Android and iOS). It will allow you to create your own intelligent pacing strategy and produce wrist bands (free of charge) to ensure a successful completion of the race.

The SCMM Half Marathon Course
The 21.1km course is relatively flat. It can be thought of as containing 4 natural laps of different lengths based on terrain and progression of the race.

Elevation Map for the SCMM Half Marathon

Elevation Map for the SCMM Half Marathon

  • 2.5 km from the start, a warm-up segment to the highest point of the Sea Link
  • 10.8 km from the highest point of the Sea Link to Haji Ali, an approximately flat route
  • 1.2 km from the bottom of Peddar Road to its top (HSBC branch)
  • 6.6 km from the top of Peddar Road to the finish

My Pacing Strategy
In any race, because of weaving through the crowds and drifting near water stations, the distance travelled is slightly more than officially stated. Assuming this is about 21.3km for the SCMM as a pacer, my plan is to finish within a tight time band of 1:58:00 and 1:59:15. Drilling down further, by the 4 natural laps, my plan is the following:

2-Hour SCMM Half 2015 by PacePal

2-Hour SCMM Half 2015 by PacePal

Do remember that these are planned paces. Depending on the exact situation (predominantly crowding) along the route, there may be slightly divergences from this plan within the boundaries set, but I will always bring you back on track.

Running with PuruTheGuru
Now that you know what strategy I intend to follow what should you do if you would like to run with me but are not in the same starting enclosure as I am in when the gun goes off? (I am likely to be in Enclosure D.)

If you are in Enclosure A, B or C, you could just wait until I approach with flag waving and then cross the start timing mat along with me. If you happen to cross the mat much earlier and then wait for me to catch up you run the risk of being slower than 2 hours if you finish with me.

If you are in Enclosure E, F, G or elsewhere, then crossing the start mat with me will be difficult if not impossible.  In that case my suggestions are:
(a) use PacePal and the wrist bands to guide you, and/or…
(b) slowly try to make your way through the crowds (do not be anxious, and do not rush unsafely) and as long as you can see my flag waving, you will finish within target time

PacePal - intelligent running

PacePal – intelligent running

Running with PacePal
I am excited about the release of PacePal for the SCMM. When that happens next week, I plan to share my thoughts on it with you.

I wish you well for your days of tapering to race day.

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Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.

Setting Achievable Goals – Looking back

Reflection on performance

Reflection on performance

A year ago in one of my articles in my series of blogs on nutrition I provided you a neat framework within which to think about resolutions you might make and goals you might set. The idea was for you to think about goal setting with the intention of increasing the probability of success in achieving them. Setting goals without a framework for achieving them is a relatively pointless exercise. I strongly urge you to read that article first.

Retrospection
An important part of any on-going process towards success is retrospection with performance measurement and performance attribution. Standing here today, on 1 January 2015, looking back, if all I can see is that from my list of goals for 2014 I have succeeded with some but not others, I may not gain much in terms of future goal-setting. Measuring under performance or out performance, and having information that allows you to explain why your performance was good (or not) is critical to moving forward by benefiting from the past.

In order to understand why you had varying degrees of success in the different goals, possession of qualitative and/or quantitative information about the factors that drive success is key. Without that information, again, not much can be gleaned. In that case, perhaps, going forward, you ought to make record keeping a part of your daily life. Sound laborious or painful? But, is success easy? And, do you enjoy failure? In fact, is failure less painful than the effort to keep a record and monitor and manage process?

Shailja Singh Sridhar

Shailja Singh Sridhar

Of the many resolutions I made about a year ago, I told you about only two of them – both related to others. The first of these goals (a sub-4-hour marathon) was achieved by my client/friend as she worked with dedication and mindfulness – I told you about her a few weeks ago. With the other goal, we did not really make a start, as my mentee experienced other positive life changing events that kept him too busy to work on a Boston qualifying race attempt.

As you step through the year, sometimes in small steps, at other times in leaps and bounds, it is worthwhile keeping track of where you are. That will make looking back to make future steps in the right direction more effective.

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Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.