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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.firstname.lastname@example.org or perhaps even leave a comment below.
Good luck with tapering and best wishes for a fun and injury free race day!
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.