Pacing Jason

Let me begin by providing some background on my husband Jason’s running.  He ran his first 5k in June 2012 when we lived in Jermyn, courtesy of me talking him into it.  He ran 2 more that summer.  He’s never been a stranger to working out, and having been in the Army National Guard for 6 years he was familiar with long miles logged on marches.  To watch him run one would think he’s a natural as his form is quite good.  His height and build make me think he would’ve been a standout 800m or 1600m runner in high school, had he chosen to participate in track.

I don’t think Jason has ever considered himself a runner in the sense that I do, but rather he runs if he’s in the mood to do so.  Some years this means he runs quite a bit.  Other years he will go months with maybe one or two runs under his belt.  He actually ran a half marathon by himself on the York Rail trail a few years ago.  If I recall he has ran a personal best of 23-something in a 5k back when he ran more often and raced more regularly.  I would love to know what he would be capable of running if he committed to training regularly.  However he much prefers DailyBurn workouts and weight lifting.

For the past month Jason and I have been running together every Saturday.  He was only running sporadically and hadn’t ran all winter.  I told him if he wanted to run the Cancer Crushin 5k and Turkey Hill Country Classic 10k that he needed to start getting some longer miles logged.  He also threw out the idea of running the Dumb Dutchman half marathon since my dad and Armand plan on running it.

If Jason’s inconsistent training is annoying as a runner to watch, his lack of pacing himself is infuriating.  He is a jack rabbit as soon as a run begins wanting to go out hard from the very start believing that every run is a race against himself.  While I admire his drive to push hard, any distance runner knows pacing is a key element to long runs.  Too often in the past our intended 5-6 mile runs have changed to 4 because he’s gone out way ahead of me and been too tired to finish.

A few weeks ago we went running with my dad on the Northwest Lancaster River Trail intending to run at least 6 miles.  Our first mile was at a good pace, but during the second mile I watched as Jason began pulling further ahead of me.  My dad stayed with him and I called out that they were pushing pace too much.  Sure enough when my Garmin beeped the second mile the pace had increased by at least 30 seconds.  Jason made the argument that he didn’t feel like he was running any faster, but by the time the fourth mile came around he was hurting.  Dad and I ended up completing 6.5 miles while Jason threw in the towel around 5.75.

The “you need to stop going out so hard” lecture has been given to Jason by myself and my dad.  I don’t think he intentionally ignores our advice.  It’s just in his mind he is in shape from his other workouts and if he feels good then his pace is fine.  I can’t say too much as I was guilty of similar thinking during the Hands on House half marathon last fall despite my first few mile splits indicating otherwise.

Yesterday Jason and I set out for the river trail once more for our long run.  Originally we planned to run on the York Rail trail, but the increasing temperatures made us want a shadier route.  We were aiming for a minimum of six miles with a preferred distance of seven.  Jason mentioned maybe eight, but I didn’t take him seriously given how the run with dad on that trail had gone.

One difference in this run was that Jason had ordered a sleeve to hold his cell phone on his arm while running so that he could listen to music.  I hoped any upbeat tempo songs wouldn’t cause him to increase his pace more than he should.  He told me at the start of the run to let him know once we hit 3.5 miles.  I knew we wouldn’t be talking during the run, but I reminded him to let me control the pace that I would aim for 9-9:30 per mile.  I hoped being the water/sport drink carrier would be reason enough for him to not get too far ahead of me.

The first mile we ran nearly side by side.  During the second mile he started to pull away again and I called after him, but of course he couldn’t hear me.  Fortunately he did glance back and I motioned to slow the pace and he did.  I remained a few steps behind him, but not the feet that I had been.  Throughout the third mile he would start to edge ahead then realize he was gaining too much ground and ease up.  I was by his side as we approached the 3.5 mark and he responded with “Let me know when we hit 4”.  Slightly surprised but feeling ok, I agreed with the plan while expecting him to end up deciding seven was enough on our way back.

We reached our turn around point and I noticed his breathing wasn’t as labored as it had been on past runs indicating that his cardiovascular endurance was improving, and he was benefiting from my controlled pacing.  At mile five he told me to let him know when we reached mile six.  He began to pull ahead of me and stopped checking on my location.  I couldn’t tell if he was picking up the pace, or if I was slowing.  My left knee began to twinge and my legs were heavy and reminded me that I haven’t been running near as much during track season.  I moved to the side of the trail, hoping the softer ground would alleviate some of my fatigue.

When my Garmin beeped mile six I realized I had indeed slowed the pace beyond a 9:30.  Jason was at least 200m ahead of me by that point and I worried I wouldn’t be able to catch him to supply him with the sport drink.  My legs slowly began to feel better and I resumed running on the macadam trail.  I gradually picked up the pace and a slight uphill over a wooden bridge provided me the benefit of reeling in Jason.  We were almost at seven miles.  The last mile I took the lead as Jason began to fatigue a bit.  Part of me wanted to increase the pace because I was feeling better, but knew it was best to hold steady for his sake.  We finished the full eight miles together, a distance I was not mentally prepared to run when the day began or even when our run began.

I gave Jason props for completing the distance and for maintaining such a good pace during it.  I thanked him for following my cues to ease up the pace when needed and he agreed it helped him to feel better for longer during the run.  I feel more confident going into the 10k having gotten that long of a run completed.  I’m still on the fence about running the half marathon in June, and I think Jason may be more leery now after feeling how much the eight miles could hurt.  There is a “half a half” race option that day, so I told him if anything we could just run that instead.  He wants to wait until after the 10k to make any decisions.  That is fine with me, and I will continue to help pace him if he decides he wants to tackle the full half.

Do you run or workout with your significant other?  Do you find it hard to run beyond a certain distance if you haven’t planned to run that at the start? 




About Tracy

Runner. Writer. Reader. Environmental and Indigenous Peoples advocate. Work from home Workforce Specialist. NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Assistant Varsity Track Coach. Fascinated by the ocean, waterfalls and Christmas lights.
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18 Responses to Pacing Jason

  1. 40andfeelinit says:

    So awesome you and your husband run together! And what a great coach you are. He might need a bit of help in the student area though, lol. That’s how guys are though. They have the energy and they use it. The energy is gone and they stop. Lol, it’s like so simple to them. I shouldn’t generalize, lots of men don’t do that. I’m just in your shoes because my husband is the same way. And now that it’s mentioned, my son is too! All the energy expended right away. Now that spring is here we can start working on some 5k training too.Good Luck!

    • TracyNicole says:

      It’s nice to hear it’s not just Jason who likes to burn up the energy right away. I run primarily with men (my dad and guys his age and older) in our running group and they all know how to train smart, so it often feels like Jason just isn’t listening when I coach on pacing. I guess it’s just something that has be learned because it goes against his instincts! Good luck in your training as well!

  2. Great post; I’m glad you run with your husband! I have spent 14 years trying to get my husband to run. I’ve only succeeded about three times. Despite me saying he can set the pace, he will inevitably go out too hard and too long and then hurt for a week and give up on running for a few years, LOL.

    • TracyNicole says:

      Aw that is sad he’s only attempted it a few times and it hasn’t gone well. I know we can’t share all our hobbies with our spouses, but when running plays such a huge part of your life it’s hard not to want your spouse to enjoy it the same way. I’m glad Jason will at least run and race at times, but it’d be nice if he was a bit more consistent. I guess I should be grateful I can get him out the door at all!

  3. I don’t run with my husband but I have started running a portion of my long runs with my 13-year-old daughter. She’s run several 5k’s and a 10k but is now training for her first half marathon. She has trouble with pacing for her long runs (starts off too fast) so we’ve been working on that. I’ve noticed by checking her mile splits later she often slows down after she turns around to go home while I continue on, but she eventually picks up the pace and her last mile or two are often her fastest. Pacing is difficult when you’re new to running and I think it’s something that you have to learn over time.

    • TracyNicole says:

      That is great your daughter is following in your footsteps – literally! A half marathon is a big challenge at that age, I wouldn’t run over 400m when I was in jr high! It sounds like she is getting the hang of it and finishing well. Jason doesn’t tend to finish with a fast pace. I feel like years ago he was better with it, but that may be more so because he ran more frequently so he was in better running shape and could hold a faster pace for longer. This is also the first he’s ever really tried to add longer onto a long run each week. I keep saying he should run at least one other time during the week minimum but he’s yet to take that advice. So long as he survives the 10k without too much issue I won’t judge too much!

      • My daughter is a natural long-distance runner. She once was supposed to run something like 4 or 5 miles and got lost and ended up running 10 miles. When she got home, she was barely even tired and said it was no big deal that she had just run 10 miles. Around then was when I signed her up for her first half marathon. I used to know people who could only run once a week and go run a half marathon or 10k and do fine. I’ve never been one of those people but hats off to those that can do it! I guess your husband is one of those people!

      • TracyNicole says:

        Wow she sounds very talented! I feel that anything over 6 miles I need to mentally prepare myself to run. I once went out to “explore” the neighborhood when we moved in and planned on run 4 and that turned into 6 and I thought I wouldn’t make it! Oh gosh I keep telling Jason it isn’t wise to think he can run a half marathon only running once a week but if you know others who can manage then maybe he’s just gifted! After seeing him make it the 8 miles on Sat. I believe he can finish one though I don’t know about actually racing it or feeling that great after. We’ll see what he decides after the 10k!

  4. Laurie says:

    I love running on the NW River trail. Our running club ran there last Tuesday night. It’s so pretty and now entirely paved. Do you start in Columbia? Of course, I like running on the York rail trail too. We are doing the Turkey Hill race, but only the 5k. I did that last year and loved it.

    I do run with Hubby, but there have definitely been times where it has tested our relationship. Running was always MY thing. Bill began running because I did and because he loves to eat. Running allows him to maintain a constant weight, but he doesn’t love it like I do. When I was injured and really struggling with my running, Bill was running faster than me. There were many, many races we ran before my injury where I slowed down and ran at his pace, especially long races. When he was feeling good and training was going well for him, but not me, he ditched me a few times and I was irritated, but now I realize that we both should just run our own race.

    We just did a 10K in Richmond last weekend and my goal was to run comfortably hard (but not really at race pace), which is exactly what I did. It felt really good.

    That half of a half looks pretty interesting! I might check it out. I have run other races there before.

    • TracyNicole says:

      The NW river trail is great! I start in Columbia with my running group sometimes, but Jason prefers to start farther up so we usually turn onto Furnace Rd and park in the parking lot up from the Chickies Rock lot (I have to laugh that they charge for parking when you can drive a bit farther and park for free) and run north from there.

      I understand it testing your relationship because there are times I’m frustrated because Jason will say early in the week he’ll go running with me then change his mind last minute. I don’t mind running alone, I just hate having my plans changed. That had to be really challenging to watch Bill run while you were injured. I’m glad you’re making a comeback from that! When I originally started running with Jason I also would get upset if he left me as I was used to my dad always circling back for me if he got too far ahead. I’ve come to terms with it though and agree that sometimes just running your own pace is best.

      Congrats on the 10k! I hope you consider the half a half – Armand and Todd said the food after the races is amazing and that the course is really flat and scenic. One of the reasons I’m considering the half a half and not the full half is the fact that it’s so flat; I’m afraid I’ll end up hurting more if I don’t have my preferred hills to break up my stride. We shall see!

      • Laurie says:

        The trail is completely flat and mostly shaded. The only problem is that it’s fairly narrow and can be difficult to pass. Start fast and close to the start line so you don’t get stuck behind some slowpokes!

      • TracyNicole says:

        Thanks for the info! Glad to hear it’s mostly shaded as Jason struggles in the heat sometimes (mostly because he doesn’t train in it, he likes “perfect weather” running days which as we know are often few and far between!) so that’d be nice. If we go for the half I don’t think I’d mind if we got stuck going slow at the start but if we do the half a half I’ll definitely want out fast!

  5. swosei12blog says:

    I’m more of an independent running. For me running is a bit of a way to spend time alone. This sentiment is probably why I have yet to do any fun runs with the two running clubs that I joined back in January.

    When pacing with others, sometimes I think you just gotta let them do their own thing.

    • TracyNicole says:

      I understand that as the majority of my long runs when training for half marathons are ran alone. I like it because I can just focus on me/my thoughts/my run. I like running with my group Wed. nights 5-6 miles to get a bit of a faster run in (they’re all faster than me) as well as some socializing as Jason not being the runner I am often grows tired of my talk about running.

      Agreed which is why I just let Jason go when he was pulling ahead after 5 miles on Saturday. I just don’t like if he pulls ahead in the second mile because I know we won’t get the full miles in because he’ll be too tired!

  6. runeatralph says:

    My wife and I have run together a few times, but she is not a runner at all. Soccer is her game and is there isn’t a ball to chase, she’s not interested.

    • TracyNicole says:

      As a coach I love when we get soccer players to come out for track because they have so much endurance/speed usually. That said, most of them are the same in that they prefer to run when it’s after a ball vs just run.

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