Pacer Spotlight: Paul Addicott

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Pacer Spotlight: Paul Addicott

In our new pacer spotlight, we talk to Paul Addicott about all things running, pacing and racing. He’s an experienced flag runner (with London Marathon and the Royal Parks Half among many others, under his pacing belt already), with plenty of brilliant advice. In particular, why you should trust your pacer!

Pacer spotlight

1) Which PBs are you most proud of, and what are your PB targets for the next year?

It’s my half marathon PB of 1:23:26 I am most proud of as it shows my journey, after struggling to finish in under 2 hours previously. I have much more I know I can cut off but for now family life has taken priority so I have not run a PB for 3 years. Over the next couple of years I want to shave 7 minutes off my marathon time to get sub 3 and achieve a sub 1:20 half marathon.

2) Have you ever got your own race pacing wrong?  What happened and what would you change next time?

Most certainly, I have got my pace wrong many times, especially in the early days. I used to go out hard and struggle at the end. I still experience this now when PB hunting but now I always know what my limit is, so I am to go as hard as I can but know I can fall back to my steady pace. If I can’t, I am going too fast. I also experience this with hot days. The cold does not bother me but the heat can affect your race, and you may have to adjust your pace to match the weather conditions.

3) How and why did you get into pacing?

I love running but don’t have the time in my life to PB hunt right now, as I have a young family. I saw an opportunity with Xempo after using their brand for a few years (as part of my PB hunting) and saw this as a perfect opportunity to do something I love and really make a difference to others’ experience. Now I have the pacing bug, I would always put an opportunity to pace in front of my own goals.

4) Is being a pace runner something you’d recommend to another runners and if so why?

Yes I would recommend it to anyone but you need to love running and be friendly. Remember you are there for the other runners not yourself. You must also only pace at a speed you can do comfortably and consistently for the whole distance. It is such a great feeling knowing how many people you have helped and not just those you know are running with you, but the hundreds tracking you in the distance who thank you at the end. I’ve even had someone pull over in front of me during a training run to thank me for getting them through a race, they recognised me running down the road!

5) What are your best race day tips for optimum pacing?

Run your own race, don’t think about everyone else, they may have difference tactics or may be running the wrong pace. Even if they tell you they are going for a certain time, it does not mean they will achieve it. Getting your pace wrong early on can ruin your entire race. It is your race, run it comfortably and if possible consistently. If you do run above pace, don’t push yourself too hard early on as you will regret it at the end.

6) Any pacing hates…?

As a regular pacer, I am used to the critique. There is always someone who knows best and considers your pace to be off. We all run differently but I always rehearse the same speech to all those around me: “I am to come in within the minute before my goal, so if running 1:40 pace for half marathon I will finish between 1:39 and 1:40. I always explain that our watches are different and mine takes a while to get going. Also, it will take me the first mile to get into my groove but I will run as consistently and as close to 7:37 as I can throughout. If the pace is slightly off, I will correct this gradually. We must take into account crowds or hills or mile markers in wrong places, or even being sent the wrong way (all of which I have experienced as a pacer)”

My best experience of this was Royal Parks 2014. A group of guys were running with me for 1:40 and one was very vocal about how slow I was going. He ended up running off and his mate stayed with me. At around 10 miles we overtook him and I tried to keep him with us but he could not, as he had run too fast. Needless to say we finished perfectly, in fact I sent the friend ahead around 13 miles, and he finished somewhere after the 1:50 pacers.

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