Pacing your race is a commonly overlooked skill to swim a race, even though this is a very important aspect of the sport. You should learn how to pace your race as you grow into an experienced athlete. In this process you will perfect different strategies and will learn to employ the right strategies as you progress through the season towards your most important competition.
1. Focus on your own lane
The first thing you should understand is that it is crucial to pace your race focussing to yourself, and not while looking at others. This is important as you have the best feeling over your own body and can feel better what your personal race pace should be. It is much easier to work up to your goal if you focus on yourself rather than letting others determine your race strategy. You should take control over your race outcome, so focus on your own lane.
2. Prepare yourself mentally
When you are working on your race pace, it’s all about preparation. How you build up your race might result in different outcomes. Preparing yourself mentally for what is going to come is very important. This is true for when you are preparing for long distances, or just a 50m sprint. Have a race plan in mind.
3. Integrate race pace strategies into your workout plans
The third tip is to integrate your race plan into your workout plan. Especially when your aim is to swim longer distances, pacing correctly can become hard. Your preparations will determine whether you are ready at your final competition and will be able to execute well. Don't expect to perform well without the right preparation.
Make up a race plan, preferably at the beginning of the season. This will give you the chance to better structure your workouts and you will get a better feeling of how you will be able to manage your race pace.
Athletes and coaches should therefor always build up a race plan together. As a coach, you should help your swimmers prepare for their pacing strategy. Depending on whether you want to start strong of finish strong, a different pacing preparation in training is required. It is important to train these paces, learn how they feel and learn how to execute them.
4. Understand that a race strategy preference can be individual
Pacing your race is not an easy thing to do because it is not only mentally challenging, it also depends on your personal physical characteristics. Everyone is built differently and therefore every person experiences different pacing strategies in a different way. A race pace strategy should be individualized.
Spend enough time figuring out which race pace strategy fits your personal needs best, depending on your physical and physiological traits. You can do so by testing different pacing techniques throughout the season.
Something to also consider for in-season racing, is which stage of the season you are in. You will be working on certain aspects of your workout during different stages of the season. Choosing a certain strategy will help emphasize different parts of your workout. So, an additional tip is to test strategies throughout the season. It will give you insight in both your training progress as well as teach you how certain pacing feels and works during a race.
Because pacing your race takes a lot of effort, both physically and mentally, knowing about proper race pace strategies is very important. So, last but not least, here are 3 of the most common race pace strategies that can be performed:
- Go out hard – This strategy means that you blast out and see where you go. Typically you would do this when you have a strong aerobic power. When you don’t have the speed to build up your race but you have a lot of aerobic power it is smartest to go out hard and keep that pace.
- Negative split – With this strategy your focus is mainly on the end of your race. When executing this strategy, you would generally hold back in the first half of your race and swim faster towards the end. This results in a very strong finish after a slower start. So if you are interested in a strong (comeback) finish, this is your go-to strategy.
- Consistent pace – The most common race pace strategy for longer distances would have to be the consistent pace. This means you keep your pace the same during your race. However, the fact that you keep your pace consistent doesn’t mean your effort stays the same. If you keep the same effort you will go slower towards the end. This means that if you want a consistent pace your effort will gradually increase towards the end.
With Swimtraxx One, you can train your race pace during your workout. Swimtraxx One tracks every lap of your workout as well as every split time in real time. You can check your logbook and follow up your sets in the Swimtraxx app and learn how you want to pace sets and races based on this valuable information.