Running Pace Perception: Factors that Affect it

running pace

Having control over your running pace is an important ability for long distance runners and is vital to attain your running goals and not to make the mistake of running too fast (thus getting tired) or too slowly (and lose minutes in your final classification).  

As the rest of the abilities, knowing your running pace can be trained and improved. As part of this training, it is important to know that there are many external factors that affect your perception.


As we said before, there are factors that can affect the way in which you perceive your running pace and can make you believe that you are running faster or slower than how you are really running.

Among these factors, we can highlight the following ones:


Hard and tired muscles; stiffness and any other physical pain will make you feel slow and clumsy, and that will not allow you to really know your pace.

Under these conditions, even running at a slow pace can seem hard and demanding.


Even though few runners notice it, the presence of other runners in the race can alter their speed perception.

Other runners’ influence is so big that it is normal that, at the beginning of any race, most runners get carried away by the “herd” of runners and tend to run faster than what they really wanted to without even noticing it.


The weather significantly affects your speed perception: being rain and wind (either in favor or against) the main ones. Extreme heat and cold can also affect your perception of your running pace .


For those who run in the city, the traffic is part of their training. Running in the city, near the cars, can affect your speed perception.

The combination of these factors can be a difficulty for many runners. If you are one of them, we recommend you to use devices that may help you.

A chronometer, a GPS watch and an intelligent mobile phone are some of the available and mostly used options. 

flickr photo by El Coleccionista de Instantes shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license