Finding the right Training Pace

Finding your Pace

One of the most difficult things for a young endurance athlete, and also for the coach of a young endurance athlete, is finding the appropriate pace to be training at. You may know what a PB pace is and you may know what the ultimate target pace is, but what is the best training pace? A common guess is a training pace somewhere between the PB pace and the target pace. However, this will normally result in training sessions being far too slow to allow the athlete to handily achieve the target. The reason that the training pace would be too slow is due to the “Gravity Effect”.

Now the heart rate folks are going to find our concept uncomfortable. If your athlete has big dreams but is not aerobically fit then there is little chance that your athlete will be able to work at the pace rate that is being suggested in this article without having them work at heart rates that are out of the ‘zone’. All this means is that your athlete is not being realistic if they think that they can hit their target finish pace without being able to train at the paces suggested here. The reason that we can make this claim is that this work is based on the actual event times that the top athletes in the world are achieving right now.

Understanding the Gravity Effect

The Gravity Effect is highly apparent when watching archery and target shooting. The effect of gravity has a significant impact on the projectile. For target shooting the projectile is the arrow or bullet. For an endurance event the projectile is the athlete. The farther the point of launching the projectile is from the target, the greater the Gravity Effect. It works like this:


The Gravity Effect is obvious when considering a projectile that travels through the air. It is not quite as obvious, but just as impactful, when the object travels over the ground. The pull of gravity still operates with exactly the same force for objects, like endurance athletes, that do not travel through the air. To counteract the impact of gravity more work needs to be done to move forward at the same pace. If the work being done remains constant, the pace will slow.

To account for the Gravity Effect on an endurance athlete the training pace needs to be set higher than the target pace to account for the extra work that needs to be done to overcome the effect as the distance becomes longer.

Accounting for the Gravity Effect

We can readily calculate the Gravity Effect if we have available performance data for elite endurance athletes in a relevant distance range. For our data we have taken the PB times for the top male Race Walk athletes who have recorded times for 5km, 10km, 20km and 50km distances. Our sample consists of 15 athletes (a larger sample would be better). Here’s what the data looks like:


From this data we now have a rough predictor for 10k, 20k and 50k times based on the 5k time that an athlete can attain. There are some anomalies in the actual 5km times for some of the athletes as this distance is not as frequently recorded as the other distances making some of the PB marks less fresh than they should be based on performances at the longer distances. However, it is universally the case that the 5k time for any of the athletes is done at a quicker pace than that of the longer distances and that the pace for each successive distance is slower than for shorter distances in all cases.

Finding the Pace

With this data we now have a baseline that can be used to predict the quickest training times that need to be attained in order to achieve the longer distance target time. A pacing chart would look like this:


To find the correct short distance target pace use the 3 columns on the right-hand side to find the goal or target finish time for the desired distance. Move across the line to the left-hand side to find the appropriate kilometre pace for training as well as the required 5km finish time that is needed to be able to hit the 10k, 20k or 50k goal time. The idea is that the athlete must be able to hit the 5km time before they can hit the 10k time and so on up the scale.

The chart also contains km pacing for 75% to 95% of the training pace (in 5% increments) as a large volume of the training work is done at a percentage off of the target training pace.

If you find that the prescribed training pace is too fast for the athlete to manage for short duration training then the finish time goal is not realistic for the athlete at this time. Choose a more realistic target, or find the short duration training time that the athlete can manage and work backwards to the predicted target distance finish time.

The Warning Label

This method for determining an appropriate short distance training time for an endurance athlete is not meant to be an exact science. It is a rough guesstimate that is based on a small sample of reliable data. When considering the target finish times keep in mind that, depending on the specific characteristics of your athlete, it is a range and not an absolute number that you are working towards. A reasonable range expectation would be somewhere between the time above and the time below in the chart.

Creating an Effective Team

Human Pyramid

Excellence in the Team

One of the most enjoyable things about being part of a team is being on an exceptional one. While that is a perfectly obvious statement and something that few would not aspire to, exceptional teams are not that common. So, what makes an exceptional team?

A good team accomplishes what it was created to accomplish. A great team gets the job done and in the process, elevates the performance of everyone on the team. An exceptional team exceeds its mandate, elevates the performance of all team members and elevates the performance of everyone and everything it encounters.

How does this happen?

The difference between good, great and exceptional is the ability to be effective. An effective team is intentional, aware, disciplined, adaptive, creative and highly developmental. An effective team has a specific design. An effective team accommodates the needs of the team, the needs of the individual team members and the needs of the environment the team works in.

Qualities of an Effective Team

An effective team is high functioning in all areas essential for success. An analysis of any high functioning team will identify the following traits. The traits can be divided into those traits that are attributable to the Group and those traits that are attributable to the Individual members of the team. Group Traits are part of the agreed Social Contract of the group and underlie group function. Individual Traits are exhibited by all or predominately all members of the team and support group function.

Group Traits

  1. Leadership and followership are interchanged freely within clearly defined contexts
  2. Unanimous focus on a quantifiable goal
  3. Clearly defined roles
  4. Frequent, effective and ubiquitous communication
  5. Consistent, united and enthusiastic effort
  6. Capability for self-correction
  7. Disagreement is welcomed, mediation is automatic
  8. Decisions are explained, agreed and enacted
  9. Equality of position
  10. Celebration as and when warranted
  11. Collaborative processes
  12. Evolution is accepted and respected

Individual Traits

  1. Professional in approach
  2. Willingness to share resources
  3. Occasional suppression of personal ego
  4. Introspection
  5. Mutual respect, mutual trust
  6. Open to change
  7. Authentic in all interactions
  8. Play is the most productive state


Organising an Effective Team

Effective teams don’t happen of their own accord. The most effective teams are created intentionally by the sponsor and primary members of the team. There are proven process practices for creating effective teams. What is being suggested here is a process that, if followed carefully, will create a framework on which a highly effective team can be built.

There is no specific formula for building an effective team. The complexity of human/environment interaction does not allow for a repeatable formula. However, there are some structural elements that are common to the workings of all effective teams. The process for developing these structural elements begins with the identification of process steps that will encourage the creation of the Group and Individual Traits noted above.

Group Trait Development

The Group Traits can be sorted into those that are Foundational and those that are Cultural. The Foundational traits need to be established at the outset of team creation or as the first step in a team reorganisation. The Cultural traits develop slowly over time through intentional relationship development on the part of the individuals who make up the team.

Foundational Traits

  1. Leadership and followership are interchanged freely within clearly defined contexts
  2. Clearly defined roles
  3. Frequent, effective and ubiquitous communication
  4. Decisions are explained, agreed and enacted
  5. Equality of position
  6. Evolution is accepted and respected

Cultural Traits

  1. Unanimous focus on a quantifiable goal
  2. Consistent, united and enthusiastic effort
  3. Capability for self-correction
  4. Disagreement is welcomed, mediation is automatic
  5. Celebration as and when warranted
  6. Collaborative processes

Individual Trait Development

Individual Traits need to be selected for. All individuals who make up the team should possess a tendency toward all the Traits, an aptitude for some of the traits and a high level of competence for a few of the Traits. It is unlikely that someone who does not identify with all the Individual Traits will be able to successfully integrate into the team. It is equally unlikely that any individual will possess a high level of competence at all the Traits.

A key component of team establishment will be the personal evaluation and development (E&D) program. The E&D program must be mandatory and must be robust enough to be relevant to a wide variety of personality types. The first step in creating an E&D program is to define, in detail, what personality and inter-personal character traits best suit the team. Commercial evaluation methods such as StrengthsFinder, DISC and LPI assessments can assist in providing the foundational material that the E&D program can be built upon.

More to Sex than meets the Eye


If you take a 10,000 foot view of sexual differentiation it appears clear and beyond debate that human sexuality is binary. That is, there are two and only two sexes, female and male. Unfortunately, that 10,000 foot view is inadequate when standing in front of an XX male or an XY female. When we look at an actual human population rather than the flawed model that a binary view of sexuality is based on, we find that sexuality is a spectrum with hyper masculinity on one end, hyper femininity on the other end, and every possible variation in between.

Looking at the Differences

Try as we might to fit every person into one of the two sexuality boxes, it just doesn’t Brain Dimorphismwork. Chromosomal differences are just one of several differentiators for human gender and only one of several determinates of how an individual will orient themselves with respect to gender. In addition to the genetic XX/XY differences in chromosome makeup there are the obvious physiological genital differences; sexual dimorphism in brain structure and function; endocrine structure and function differences; non-genital physiological differences and a host of functional differences that show up over time. Each one of these differentiators has a range of possible configurations and each configuration can present as male, female or any shade in between the two. The number of possible combinations within the differentiators is greater than the current population of the planet. In effect, possibly the rarest of creatures on the planet would be one that presents as purely female or purely male.

With all of that going on it is not hard to see why any system that attempts to sort men to the right, women to the left will be hard pressed to get it right a large part of the time.

What does Sport have to say?

The current state of gender based affairs in the global sport system is a prime example of why a binary gender system doesn’t work. For reasons not clearly defined and even less clearly understood, sport, in general, has insisted upon holding fast to a binary model of human sexuality. This model denies current scientific understanding and is creating an ever-growing series of issues as the global blended gender population has become more assertive in recent years. This is something that the global sport system has been (and continues to be) wholly unprepared to deal with.

Gender DifferencesBy far the most common response of global sport organisations has been to hold even tighter to the unsupportable binary position. In holding on to an unsupportable position sport has had to resort to some rather bizarre ‘solutions’ to attempt to address the issue. Take the IOC for example. Recently, the IOC has required (suggested) blended gender athletes to undergo ‘corrective’ surgery to remove body parts that offend the binary position. The IAAF has required a special policy, and has had that policy suspended by the CAS, that appeared to be slightly more humane. The IAAF policy requires blended gender athletes to contravene IAAF doping policy by chemically altering their bodies for sport performance purposes to bring them into line with binary gender expectations. This is truly a strange and potentially unethical way to resolve a difficult issue, requiring a person to alter their natural constituent makeup in order to support the discredited theory of gender binarity.

As if this intransigence in the face of an overwhelming volume of validated scientific evidence was not enough, the IAAF has actually commissioned a scientific study designed to validate their scientifically invalid position. When will this stop? When will the global sport community be able to accept that the binary position with respect to gender is indefensible?

An Alternative to Mutilation?

The solution is not difficult, we already have a perfectly good example of how to accommodate variations in capability from the Paralympic movement. The Paralympic classification system is complicated but effective at making sure that athlete abilities are properly matched. There is no reason why a similar classification system could not work for gender classing. Once the classing is established it is not a difficult matter to run events by class. Perhaps not all events are available to all classes depending on participant class participation but this would be no different than what already is established practice on the Paralympic side.

Let’s stop blaming the individual for who they naturally are in order to fit them into an outdated concept of the natural order of things. Let’s stop burning witches just because that is what everyone else is doing.