Health & fitness

Is being paced to a PB, cheating?

Okay, not cheating cheating (that was perhaps a bit of a provocative title), but cheating yourself.

Let me firstly say, for the record, that I don’t have anything against pacing as a concept, or pacers as people(!); in fact they showcase what I’ve found to be the most wonderful thing about the running community – how supportive everyone is of each other. I’m also not saying that pacing doesn’t have its place in races, but what I am saying is that it just isn’t for me.

I’ve had a couple of offers of pacing recently, to help me get PBs at Parkrun and an upcoming 10k at Rockingham. And whilst my first thought was ‘this will be a great way to help me achieve a PB’, I started to have niggling thoughts that any PB achieved with the help of a pacer wouldn’t count.

I love the challenge of running. Not just the physical challenge of pushing your body harder than you thought possible, but the mental challenges of overcoming the (very strong) desire to stop when it gets tough, and of finding your target pace and sticking with it. For me, running is much more of a mental discipline than it is a physical one, and therefore nailing the mental side of a race is just as influential – if not more – in gaining a PB than the physical side. If I were to hand part of that over to a pacer – who would be making sure that I kept my pace up and ensuring that I didn’t have to focus on the timing element of the race so much – I don’t think I would feel the same sense of pride. Yes, my body would have run faster than it ever had before, but I would have had help.

I am a bit (a lot) of a show off, and I love to brag about my achievements, so by handing some of the control and responsibility over to someone else and effectively giving them a contributor credit, I feel like I would be diminishing my moment. A PB is something personal to me, and means so much more than just a time on a watch. It’s a result of MY hard work, MY commitment, MY new-found mental strength and I’m damned if I’m going to share that with anybody.

I’m well aware that this is just my personal issue with pacing, and says more about my character than anything else (control freak, much?) and I am certainly not saying that anyone who has achieved a PB with a pacer shouldn’t be every bit as proud as someone who did it without one. I would never diminish anyone’s achievements and this isn’t my aim with this post at all. (Basically, please don’t hate me).

So, pacers – discuss.

5 thoughts on “Is being paced to a PB, cheating?

  1. As much as this pains me to say (for obvious reasons to you sweetie)… I AGREE!!!

    Although I’ve not been running for quite a while now, it’s something very personal to me… As you know I use it more to de-stress and work through my problems… But I do push myself to beat my time and I don’t think I’d feel as much of an achievement if I hadn’t done it all myself… Though, it probably because I’m too independent and stubborn to want anyone’s help lol xx


  2. I don’t know. I don’t think it is. Is it really any different to wearing a Garmin and using that to check your pace? Or picking out someone in front of you who looks like they’re at a certain speed and sticking with them? Using music to distract you? There are so many other things that also take away some of the mental battles so I wouldn’t say a pacer is the only villain! I’m roping in a pacer to help me drop my 5k time because I know it’s going to be a HUGE struggle to convince myself I can do it- my potential pacers have more faith in me than I do and I 100% want to talk advantage of this. But I want them to drop me below a set time and then I’ll try and do it again myself. I don’t want a pacer at every attempt! And on the elite side – the pacer does a bit of work but it is then 100% down to the athlete themselves to pull it off (otherwise all these pacers would have all the records!) – but understand that this is a COMPLETELY different spectrum!


  3. Nothing wrong with being paced round.
    I was paced around for a half marathon and took over 2 minutes off my PB.
    Not having to constantly check my watch dropped the pressure I usually put on myself a lot.

    Remember you are still putting the effort in to gain your PB. You aren’t slacking at all.


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