Marathon taper doesn’t just mean running fewer miles, it means it’s time to hammer out all of our race day details. The New York Marathon is my goal race and it’s just two weeks away! I’m busy hammering out my gel and hydration plan, going over my race outfit options, and making sure my legs own goal marathon pace. However, there is one question I just can’t seem to answer myself.
Should I run with a pace group?
One side of me says yes, sign up for the pace group! Pacers can do the mental work of finding the right pace and the group dynamic can make goal pace feel easier than if we were running it on our own. Of course, pacers are a little insurance that we will behave; they can keep us from going out too fast or from surging to pass the guy in the cow costume.
The other side of me thinks signing up to race with a pace group is a bad idea. Pace groups are only available at set race times, so we often either need to stretch or sandbag our goals to choose a pace group. Worse, pacers are human! They can make mistakes, just like anyone. All pacers are capable of running much faster than their assigned race pace, so I particularly worry that the pacers, themselves would be prone to going out too fast. Also, racing in a group can cause congestion at water stops and falling behind the pace group can be demoralizing.
For me personally, if I went with a pace group I would choose a pace group targeting a slightly slower time than my goal and I would have to take a worse starting position, which is a huge consideration at a large race like New York. However, the allure of the pace group is strong.
What are your views on pace groups? Did you or are you planning to race with one this fall? What do you think I should do?
If you’d like to see what my training for New York has been like, you can read my training logs here!