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Pace & Patience

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

By Bob Byard, Certified USA-T Level II Triathlon Coach

The mantra for my coaching philosophy to get athletes to train and race smart is “pace and patience”. That’s all there is to it: a simple, straightforward, and easy to remember way for me to get an athlete to progress in training and be competitive. I’ve used the term “pace and patience” for training others and my own racing ad nausea for years. But when I was asked to write about what exactly I meant by it, I had to do some thinking to put the rationale into words. Here goes…..

In some ways you can’t measure pace and patience as you do a workout or a race. The realization of how well you were able to control the use of your physical energy (pace) is dependent on your mental ability to do so (patience). We’ve all gone out too hard at the beginning of an athletic activity and paid for it in the latter portion by having to have to slow down to continue (if possible). Our technique deteriorated or we couldn’t maintain the effort (usually a combination of both).

AFTER a workout or race is when you can only reflect back on whether or not you did effectively and efficiently using pace and patience. After a race or workout, I ask the athlete “How was it?” and inevitably s/he will comment on the energy usage (pace) and/or how they were mentally focused (patience). In the end, you may think that pace rears its ugly head to look at the clock as the final dictate; wrong. There is a difference between “time on the clock” and “how well you used the clock”.

But let’s go back to BEFORE pace and patience becomes important. Oops, got you again; pace and patience are where it starts and everything comes after – whether a training workout or an A race, "p & p" permeate every aspect of sports: mental, nutritional, physical, environmental, and mechanical. And the last line of the story is your finish time in a race and/or your feedback from a workout.

So pace and patience never are a “means to an end” unless all you care about is “going for the IV” with disregard for physical injury, mental uncertainty and/or performance disappointment. VERY unsmart.

Remember what I said in the beginning about training and racing? Remember “smart?” Being smart is about practicing and perfecting "pace and patience" -- it's a training & racing manta. Use it and apply it. It works!


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