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One of the hardest things for most runners is learning how to pace the beginning of a race.

Most of us shoot out of the start, adrenaline pumping, and realize only later that we started out at too fast a pace.  And you ALWAYS pay later.

Our rule of thumb for the marathon: you lose 4 minutes on the second half for each minute you run too fast in the first half. 

Similar impact applies for the 1500 and above, while the 800 is the one exception: a "distance" race that requires the runner to run the first half of the race faster than the second half.

These sign sets help runners get the feel for the correct pace during practice sessions on the track. They're instructed to run what they think is their assigned pace for an event (our standard sign set includes the 800, 1500, and 3000 or 800, 1600, and 3200).  

"Remember, you're running by what FEELS like your target pace," is what I tell runners. "Stay focused on the feel of it. Listen for my whistle. When you hear it, stop right where you were when you heard the whistle. That's usually a few paces back. Then we'll come around and tell you if you ran too fast or too slow."

After blowing the whistle at 90 seconds, coaches then check each runner's position on the track against the sign sets, which are posted facing away from the runners on the outside of the track so they can't see. Coaches then tell each runner what pace they actually ran.

To make sure runners don't then lock into that position on the track, we usually ask them to run their assigned pace for another distance in a second go at it.

The sturdy sign sets then get folded flat and put away for another workout.

The signs are the best tool Coach Kevin has found for getting a feel for correct pacing at the beginning of a race.