Your pace, your race
When you start running, do not fret about your pace. No matter what your pace is, you are doing better than sitting on the couch in front of the TV. I found a wonderful support group online for Back of the Pack runners. This is a great group of people who encourage one another no matter what the pace. My goal in a race is to finish. My second goal is to run it faster than the last time I raced. Winning for me is about finishing the race. One time I finished a race dead last, and I still won first in my age group. As I have trained, I have increased my speed. I typically finish in the middle of the pack now. Since my running is for me, I am happy with my finish times.
Do not compare your pace with the pace of the runners who are faster than you are. You want to set goals and progress at your own rate. If you try to run faster than your body is ready for, you risk injury. It is not a bad thing to pick a runner who is faster than you are and try to keep them in your sights, but you need to only run at the pace you are comfortable with running. I am progressing in my pace and in my distance. I do run with faster runners sometimes, and I tell them not to worry about slowing down for me. I am comfortable running at my pace. If you have friends who run at your pace, meet up with them and run together. But to get to be a faster runner, you will need to push yourself at times. My basic way of telling if I am running to my fullest potential goes by my breathing. If I can talk and get out a few words, then I am at the upper end of my pace. If I cannot talk and just am able to grunt, I probably need to back off a bit. In using interval training, I will push to my upper limits for short amounts of time. Then I back way off and breathe. I do this by counting in my head or using the length of a song. There are also apps and features on watches to help you with interval training. The biggest thing that helped my pace increase was to run regularly and increase my speed slowly.
You can find your comfortable pace and your “just past” comfortable pace and train. You do not have to compare yourself to the other runners around you. If you in a race, tell yourself, “My race, my pace.” This is what makes you a winner!
(**Note** I wrote this a while back, and I planned on posting it earlier today. I ran my 8th half marathon today. It was a hard race, and I did not hit my initial goal. But I finished the race. That is winning! So this is a good day for me to revisit my thoughts on pacing. It is MY race and MY pace. Every day is different!)