Chase the Pace
- Good for groups of similar abilities
- An excellent way to practise pacing and to simulate race conditions
- Works well with groups of 2-21 runners
- Perfect for the running track, and can also work in a park with good paths
Chase the Pace is a great way to get athletes to practise consistent pacing and also to help simulate race conditions.
Cones are useful to mark start and finish points when in a park. Alternatively, naturally occurring markers such as trees, lamposts, benches, or positions on a running track can be used.
Organise athletes into groups of similar ability.
Determine start and finish points and if necessary mark them with cones.
One athlete from each group is nominated as the pacer and is set the task of completing the prescribed distance in a fixed time. This should be at a pace that is a little slower than what is achievable for all athletes in that group.
The remaining athletes in each group are nominated "chasers" and it is their job -over the course of a lap - to catch up with the pacer, who is given a head start.
The pacer heads off and after a short time the rest of the group follow. It is their goal to also run a consistent pace, but one that is slightly faster than the pacer's, with the aim of both pacer and chasers reaching the finish point at the same time.
After the first rep a new pacer is nominated and following a recovery the session continues until every athlete in the group has acted as the pacer.
The pace of the chasing group should be consistent. No sprinting to catch the pacer immediately or sprint finishes to catch them at the end!
Each group should contain between two and seven athletes and it's best to limit the number of groups to three (i.e. three groups of seven athletes means 21 athletes all together).
In this variation the chasing pack run at the same pace as the pacer until they reach a pre-agreed point. They then surge and catch the pacer before a second agreed point and then drop back to the original pace and stay together as a single pack until the finish line. This is excellent race simulation practice.
Real World Example
There is a group of 12 runners of mixed ability and the session takes place on a running track.
Athletes are organised into two groups of six. The first group includes more-experienced runners and the second group relative beginners.
Each athlete in each group is given a number between one and six.
Runner number one from the beginners' group is told to jog a lap of the track very slowly. The chasing pack from this group sets off 15 seconds after the pacer and gradually catches up over the course of the lap.
At the same time runner number one from the more-advanced group is told to run a lap of the track at 3000-meter pace. The rest of the group set off 5 seconds after and gradually catch up over the course of the lap.
After a 90 second recovery, the athletes numbered two from each group act as pacer with the rest of the group chasing in a like manner. The session continues with each member of each group taking a turn pacing and the rest of the group chasing, with a 90 second recovery between each effort.
Mixed abilities within the same group can be accommodated by having the slower runners act as pacers first and then getting the more experienced athletes to maintain this pace when they take on the role of pacer.