Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Yoga benefits + The Pros And Cons Of A Marathon Pace Group

I haven't run a step in 9 weeks. Whoa - my life without running...
I am making the best of it and have been busy biking, pool running, working my core and now - yoga.

I am on day 3 of the Prana yoga challenge. Pics of day 2 and day 3 poses...

Day 2 = Cobra pose

Day 3 = One legged downward facing dog pose

In fact, incorporating yoga into your regular cross training routine can make you a better runner.
Check out this excerpt from Runner's World...

You can read the entire article HERE! I am a newbie to yoga, but I really like how it makes my body feel and how it make me feel inside (calm, focused). I also feel a tiny bit more flexible and I know that will grow as I practice consistently. So - go do it! Take a class or buy a video and practice at home. It will make you a better runner and that's what this journey is about, right? :)

With all of my time off from running (9 weeks - I still can't believe it), I have had a lot of time to read, think, dream, reflect and research about running. One topic that has been coming up a lot in my conversations with other runners is marathon pace groups. Is is a good idea to use one?

I really like the idea of a pace group - an experienced runner leading the way to a coveted PR (or just a successful race!) and all I have to do is RUN. It sounds so easy, so doable.

When I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2004, I trained my butt off. I did everything I was supposed to do and then some. I didn't have any kiddos at that time and I really focused so much on the marathon. At the end of the 16 week training cycle, I was ready. Ready to race, ready to PR.
When I arrived in Chicago and went to the expo, one of my immediate questions was: "Where can I sign up for a pace group?"
I was directed to a designated booth and got to talk to a nice guy about how the pace group works. The group is free and they give you a pace band to wear on your wrist according to your goal time, so you know what your splits should be.
I was so excited! I thought it would be a blast to run with a group of people all running with the same goal, and a fearless leader to help guide us there.

Well, it turned out to be a really good experience. Good, in that the leader did his job and the run went pretty seamlessly. For me, it was good in that I got a PR, but not the time I was aiming for with the pace group. I'm not sure what happened - maybe I started out too quickly, perhaps I should have started with a pace group 5 minutes slower and worked my way up?
I started out with the 3:15 pace group and yet my time ended up being 3:23.  I was happy about the new PR, but honestly I was sad about not achieving the 3:15 time that I worked so hard for.

Another experience was at the Ventura Marathon 5 months ago (September 2014). I hadn't run a marathon since Chicago and again had a really positive training cycle. I saw the pace group at the start of the marathon and this time decided to back off a bit and run my own race. Not in any way to say that I didn't run my own race in Chicago, but this time I didn't put as much into sticking with the pace group. Also, I knew I would see their neon pink sign and could catch up to them in the later part of the race if my race was going well.
At mile 3, I ended up hooking up with a nice little group of runners that were going right at the same pace that I was and we ended up having our own mini pace group! It was fun, refreshing and kind of relaxing (as relaxing as a marathon can be.)

As I went through some struggles starting in mile 18, I ended up falling behind my group, and there was one mile that I really struggled. You know what invigorated me? Seeing an official pace group pass me by. It was the 3:25 pace group and I was thinking: "Kick into gear, Nat - hook in with that group!" My final time was 3:32, but the point is - every time I saw another group go by - 3:25 and then 3:30 - I felt pumped and excited. I also felt like there was no way I was going to let the 3:35 group pass me :)

I read a great article from Runner's Connect about pacing groups. They talked about how to use pacing groups to hit your goal:

...and this is what I sort of did. I stalked the pace group for the first 3 miles (I was easing into my pace, didn't want to start too quickly), then hooked in with another group that was right for me. I loved how in the end the pace groups help motivate me during my struggles in the last miles.

With all of that being said...


1. A great way to run with similar paced runners.
2. A fun sense of "community" - you can silently encourage each other.
3. There is an experienced leader who knows the exact pace to maintain to get you to the finish on time or 1-2 minutes ahead of pace.
4. Your leader can be a built in mentor and give the group encouraging words and advice along the way.


1. The leader's job is to run almost perfectly even splits from beginning to end. The pace in the first half of the race may be too quick for you.
2. You may be in danger of not running your own race.

Check out the full article about marathon pacing from Runner's Connect HERE!

Cliff Bar has an excellent pacing team program. Check out the article here about their pacing teams and even some information about becoming a pace leader.

I think it would be awesome to pace a marathon group at some point. Helping someone achieve their goals or just finish their first marathon is pretty special. Pacers usually have a lot of marathon experience and they pace groups about 20-30 minutes slower than their normal pace.

Have you ever used a marathon pacing group? What was your experience?

Have you ever been a marathon pacer?

Happiness Is Running Life!


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