“If I run faster, I’ll finish faster” (nope)

I host practice sessions regularly at Redline, and I always try to leave enough time at the end for feedback. At the recent pratice session, one of the participants did well for her PARE test, and her pacing was excellent, hitting almost the same times each lap (28’s and 29’s for her laps). She did have difficulty with the machine, and she thought for her next PARE she’ll run the laps faster so she’ll have more time on the machine.

I flat out told her no.

Why was I so blunt? Because running faster, to the point of sprinting, is the surest way to burn out and get a worse time for your test. Whatever time you think you’ll save by sprinting the course, you’ll lose it on the machine.

Her line of thinking is common though, and logically it makes sense. I run fast, I finish the 6 laps faster, therefore I have more time left for the machine.

What gets lost in the “logic” is the amount of energy that is needed to run fast. Running 2 seconds faster per lap may not sound like much, but it means a lot in the grand scheme of things. Trying to sustain a faster pace burns up a lot of energy, precious energy that’s needed for the machine.

The machine is an entirely different beast when you’re tired. It becomes a monster when you’re gassed.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t run fast. What I am saying is don’t run faster than your abilities allow you to. I have the ability to run the PARE course with 17 or 18 second lap times, and keep it consistent. But if I try to run faster, around 15 or 16 second lap times, I will burn out quickly. In fact I tried just that. You can read about my experience sprinting the PARE, and comparing it to my best PARE time. Check it out here.

This is why I’m a big proponent of pacing. When you find the right pace for your abilities, you’re able to sustain a high enough effort level that will ensure you pass your test or gain a competitive time. Go beyond what you’re capable of, and everything will fall apart.

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