What is pace and why does it matter? Whether you are a runner, walker, swimmer or cyclist, your pace affects your economy — how much energy you expend training. If you minimize the energy it takes to run, bike or swim, you reduce the cost of training — wear and tear on your body — which results in reduced fatigue and injury.
In running, slower turnover increases the time you spend in the air, resulting in lifting your body mass to a greater height, which requires more energy. To compensate for slow pace, many make the mistake of increasing stride length. This only adds to the problem, because stride length requires greater energy and a higher fitness level. In addition, a longer stride rate combined with a greater body lift from a slower pace increases the landing impact, which is the greatest cause of injury to a runner.
With cycling, a slow pedal stroke combined with light to moderate gearing translates to a slower pace. If you are traveling a specific distance, it will take longer, increasing fatigue and overuse. A slow pedal stroke combined with heavy gears increases load to the muscles and joints, increasing injury. For swimmers, an increased stroke rate increases muscle and joint usage, which can lead to overuse injuries, so pace does matter here, too.
How does pace relate to run, walk, bike and swim?
- Pace for runners and walkers is measured by counting strides or foot strike per minute. An ideal stride rate for runners is 180 foot strikes per minute. Simply count the foot strike for one leg. For optimal performance your goal is 90 strikes per foot.
- Pace for cyclists is measured by revolutions per minute (RPM) or pedal strokes. The ideal cadence is 90-100 RPM. Change gears to keep your cadence in this range and if you feel fatigued, use a lower gear.
- Pace for swimmers is measured by stroke count per lap or 25-yard length. Optimal strokes per 25-yard lap is between 15 and 17 strokes. This can best be achieved by increasing your glide after each stroke.
There are many electronic devices for each sport that can assist you in measuring pace. Check out your local sporting goods store to find the one that works best for you.
The simplest and most affordable way is to simply count. Now, you might ask, am I supposed to count my pace throughout my workout? No. Use this as a tool to determine your current pace, work on improving your economy and then re-assess pace once to twice a week within a workout. Now get out there and train your pace!
We have some great events coming this fall to your neighborhood. Start working to improve your economy and pace.
- Tri for Fun, Pleasanton – Aug. 20
- Du-Toes Duathlon Orinda – Aug. 27
- Tri for Real, Pleasanton – Sept 18
- See Jane Tri, Pleasanton – Sept. 24
- Tri Girl Tri, Lake Berryessa – Oct. 1
- Diablo Man, Concord/Walnut Creek - Oct. 10
- Du the Bears, El Sobrante – Oct. 15
- Marin County Triathlon, San Rafael – Nov. 5
- Mt. Diablo Challenge, Concord/Walnut Creek – Oct. 2
- Wheels For Meals, Pleasanton – Oct. 22
- Walnut Festival 5K/10K, Walnut Creek – Sept. 11
- Day at the Races for Literacy Run, Concord - Oct. 29
- Mare Island 5K Vallejo – Nov. 2
- Solano Turkey Trot, Fairfield – Nov. 24
- WCSF Turkey Trot, Walnut Creek – Nov 24