The Straits Times Run in the Hub 2019


Singapore Sports Hub


Sep 29, 2019


From 4am

Published Sep 22, 2019

Pace your race better

Pacers for the 18.45km category of last year's ST Run before the flag-off. The writer says that even though everyday runners cannot be as fast as the top athletes, they should still aim to run like them.

Ben Pulham

It is likely you'll never run as fast as Eliud Kipchoge, the marathon world-record holder. You probably won't even run as fast as our local marathon champion, Soh Rui Yong, who is also the ambassador for the Sept 29 The Straits Times Run.

That's okay, but there's no reason you shouldn't run like them.

In my previous column, I spoke about the importance of developing your race execution skills. Race execution refers to the things within your control that improve (or ruin) your race time directly.

I said that pacing, fuelling, running form and mindset were the primary focus during a race like the ST Run to maximise your fitness and achieve your best result.

While all are important, pacing is arguably the most significant because it affects how much fuel you need, how quickly your form breaks down and your mindset, so I wanted to unpack pacing in a little more detail.



Whether you know it or not, you're using one of three pacing strategies every time you race.

A positive split is where you run the first half faster than the second half. An even split is where you run at a consistent pace for the duration of the race, and a negative split is where you run the second half faster than the first half.

Most amateur runners run a positive split. That's because they run too hard in the beginning, blow up and jog to the finish line.

On the flip side, most professional runners will run an even split or a subtle negative split, where their second half is marginally faster than the first half of the race.

The latter is the best way to maximise your fitness and run the best possible time, which is why the pros use it, but it takes a lot of patience and control to pull off.

Like any skill, the skill of racing needs to be practised and perfected over time. I work hard to teach athletes who sign up for a Coached training programme about the importance of race execution and have them practise it in each race.



I started coaching Riana Montisano, a marathon runner who wanted to break her personal best (PB) a little under two years ago. She worked hard to improve her fitness and practised her racing skill diligently in each of her races.

In April, she did her primary race of the year, the London Marathon. She had the fitness to run a great time, but could she get her execution right and achieve her PB?

While significantly slower than race winner Kipchoge, you can see in the chart below that she ran with a similar level of self-control as the master and broke her PB by a whopping eight minutes.

While you'll never run as fast as the pros, there's no reason you shouldn't race like them. Run an even split on Sept 29 at the ST Run, and you'll be rewarded with the best possible time, given your starting fitness and the length of time you had to prepare.

Thank you for joining me on this journey the past 15 weeks. I wish you all the best in your race.