A few weeks ago I starting pacing for a local running store’s group runs. Pacing involves running at a set pace for the benefit of other folks who are training for a particular race or pace.
I’ve flirted with the idea of pacing before but basically didn’t think I was experienced enough or a strong enough runner. But I also wanted to help out the community I had joined and frankly, as a teacher, I couldn’t resist the urge to tell other people what to do.
This pat weekend I paced a long run of 14 miles. We looped around three times and by the final loop it was just another runner and myself. After nearly three hours we chatted like old friends and urged each other on. It was oddly relaxing: we were both tired and focused on the same goal, and therefore a lot of the pretense of normal conversation was stripped away.
I’ve come to enjoy pacing not just because it lets me be bossy and feel important, but because it gives me the concrete goal of a race without the pressure or the cost. After all, what I mostly enjoy about running is the community. There are few better ways to get to know someone than sweating through a few miles (or fourteen).