Help me run slower
April 27, 2012 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Are there any tools or apps or techniques to improve the consistency of my running pace? I run too fast for my own good.

My problem: When I run with a good partner or on the treadmill, I run slower (10-11 min mile) and can get a much longer distance without needing a break. When I run alone, my "natural speed" seems to be faster (not really fast, like 8 min miles) and I get out of breath and end up walking. So I would prefer to run slower than I am.

Is there anything other than a well paced partner that helps with this? Ideally it would be something similar to those heart monitors that say "slow down, your heart rate is too high", but for pace. I have Nike+ with the foot thingie and the iPhone Nike+ app which uses GPS, but I don't think either one does this... they'll just announce your pace when you press a button.
posted by smackfu to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Podrunner releases specific BPM-music for particular paces - what about picking your target pace and running to the beat?
posted by jquinby at 9:33 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I used to have a Garmin forerunner 305 GPS running watch thingy. It had a virtual partner you could program to 'run' at a specific pace. The screen would show numerically and via two running stick men how on/off your chosen pace you were. It was terrific, and does exactly what you want.
posted by dowcrag at 9:34 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

With the gamin forerunner you can also set pace alerts so it beeps at you if you're going too fast or slow.
posted by ghharr at 9:37 AM on April 27, 2012

Might work? It'd be similar to Podrunner but allow you to choose your own songs.
posted by Lucinda at 9:37 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you want a more low-tech version, if you tend to run the same set of routes you can work out your ideal pace time by the half-mile or mile and tape it around your wrist. So if you hit a certain landmark at X minutes and you know it should be X + 3 minutes, you can tamp down a bit. I do this for longer races sometimes because I too have the tendency to burn out early.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:59 AM on April 27, 2012

If you prefer to run slower and not have to take walk breaks, then work towards that. But note that there's nothing wrong with doing a run-walk; many people find the variety more enjoyable, and some people think that you will end up faster on net if you take walk breaks.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:23 AM on April 27, 2012

You seem to rule out the idea of using a heart rate monitor, but since pace is highly correlated with heart rate, I'd suggest using a heart rate monitor. (This is what I use to makesure I don't outrun myself). As you seem to be aware, there are lots of options;

I think the Adidas MiCoach getup will -- with the appropriate accessory (iphone+accessory) -- track your pace by both GPS and footpod and track your heartrate. I know from experience that the iphone/GPS only implementation of Adidas MiCoach will tell you to speed up or slow down through your earphones so that you're running in the target pace. For GPS only (what I do right now since I don't have the accessory that enables footpod or heart rate monitor) I find that the pace tracking isn't accurate enough over short periods of time to be useful, so I turn off the voice coaching. It might be better with the accessory that also tracks your pace via footpod, but I have no experience with this.
posted by u2604ab at 10:29 AM on April 27, 2012

I use a small digital electronic metronome. It's easy to adjust the beat to your pace and vice versa.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:06 AM on April 27, 2012

I too think you should reconsider why you want to change you exercise pattern. If you exercise for cardiovascular health, then what matters is the end effect - and here time and intensity are linked variables: you are trading intensity for length (at one extreme you have High Intensity Interval Training - I did a recent FPP about it). From a cardio point of view, it's really equivalent, six of one and half a dozen of the other. So right now you exercise more intensely for a shorter period of time - why is that bad? It's just as good - from a health point of view - as exercising for a longer period at lesser intensity.

Of course, if you are running for some other reason, then the suggestions above might be more relevant.
posted by VikingSword at 11:33 AM on April 27, 2012

Huh, I use Nike+ with my gen 3 Ipod Nano, and it displays my pace on the screen all of the time.

I fact I use it to do exactly what you want. Frequently glancing at the screen (the nano is so small that it's comfortable to run with it in-hand) gives me consistent (as often as I need) feedback on my pace and lets me adjust to go slower or faster as I need to.

So, maybe you can pick up an older nano (and maybe a nike+ dongle). You should be able to find them pretty cheap.
posted by oddman at 11:42 AM on April 27, 2012

Though I second all the technological solutions (I often use a heart rate monitor and nearly always use my garmin forerunner 305), one of the things that helps me when I'm just trying to just run 'easy' (without having to stare at my watch for constant pace feedback) is to pace my steps to my breathing: If I can do 4/4 breathing (left/right/left/right as I breathe in, left/right/left/right as I breathe out) it's an easy run. If I'm finding that I'm having to switch to a 3/3 rhythm or 2/2 rhythm to get enough air, I know I need to slow down.
posted by matcha action at 11:43 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I had the same problem until I started using a GPS app on my phone with verbal aznnouncement (I use RunKeeper on my android phone, but there are lots of options). I set it to announce time and pace every 1/4 mile, and I adjusted accordingly. Worked like a charm.

Now I have it announce only every 1/2 mile, and I'm even thinking of scaling back to once per mile.
posted by tippiedog at 2:47 PM on April 27, 2012

Adidas' micoach does exactly that. You have speed zones and when you are on a training run and using full instruction, it will nag the bejesus out of you to slow down (or speed up) to stay in the pace zone you should be running in.
posted by tigerjade at 8:31 PM on April 27, 2012

You need a heart rate monitor with a chest strap. I like the ones with alarms you can set to go off if you exceed (or drop below) a certain heart rate. It doesn't matter if it's a good cheap one or a fully accessorized Garmin Forerunner 405, which is what I use. BTW, most treadmills with heart rate displays will automatically work with almost any chest strap, except for the Garmin ones because they work on a different frequency.

The key is to find out what your lactic acid threshold is. If you stay below it you'll be able to run very long distances without getting very tired. Exceed it you'll quickly wear yourself out because lactic acid will build up in your blood stream faster than your body can get rid of it. You can increase your LT with proper training.

A HRM is a better way to measure how hard your body is working than going by just pace or speed. Because things like temperature, humidity, hydration, over training and some other factors can have a huge effect and a HRM will show it so you can adjust your speed.

I immediately decreased my 10K race times by about 20% when I got my first HRM because I started running at a more sustainable pace until it was time to begin my sprint near the finish. I also learned that I was very often over training and stopping that also led to some big improvements.
posted by 14580 at 8:56 PM on April 27, 2012

An electronic pacer may help, but I have a simpler solution from when I did cross country that may help allow you to run without running out of breath.

Pace your strides to your breathing.

If you have to take more than a full inhale-exhale for three or four strides, you're running too fast for training. I used to pace myself at two strides per inhale, two for exhale.

The nice thing about using breath for pacing is that it adjusts with your fitness and is pace independent. You can use the same cadence when you are more or less out of shape.

Here's an article that talks about this technique.
posted by zippy at 11:00 PM on April 27, 2012

I didn't see matcha's answer earlier; what they said.
posted by zippy at 11:03 PM on April 27, 2012

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