Beofra ‘Bee’ Butler is a runner and triathlete who has completed a 100 mile ultramarathon and over 100 marathons while working as an active duty military member and certified run coach. She started running track and field as a kid, ran her first 5k in 1992, and first marathon in 2008. Bee enjoys every mile and has helped countless runners achieve their goals. We asked her for some tips to improve pacing for endurance running.
What advice do you have for runners trying to achieve a faster pace or PR?
In short: It can happen with 3 P’s…Practice, Pacing, and Patience!
Practice: consistency is key to making the hard feel easier or more manageable.
Pacing: understanding what you are currently capable of running allows you to train at a proper increase/decrease in order to improve.
Patience: it will not happen overnight. Stay the course and you’ll get there.
What tips do you have for incrementally increasing your pace or distance over time?
Be patient and mentally prepared for a challenge. Start where you are. Increasing pace involves adding speed work (tempos/repeats) to your plan as a separate workout or even during the final miles of a long run when the legs are tired. The options vary depending on what you are able to run at the beginning of training.
What are some of the biggest challenges when trying to become faster over longer distances?
Running distance is a huge challenge in itself, so adding speed to that will definitely intensify the process. The biggest challenge is not being able to go the distance (fast or slow) and immediately jumping into speed work. Before trying to become faster, a runner should make sure they can go the distance
What’s a common mistake runners make when trying to become faster?
Training at a pace that is too fast for them resulting in the runner abandoning their goals in training, or even worse, getting injured.
What advice do you have to avoid those mistakes?
Be patient and trust the process. Speed will come but sometimes you have to slow down in order to speed up. Running fast everyday will cause more harm than good. Training should consist of a variety of effort-level runs.
Outside of training, what’s the best thing a runner can do to help support their goal of a faster time?
Rest and Recover: It’s one of the most important parts of training. Rest allows the body to repair and bounce back stronger, preventing injuries or getting burned out.
Proper Fueling and Hydration: You cannot outrun bad nutrition or hydration. It will catch up to you when you least expect it and can prevent you from reaching your goals. Understand that this is a constant process, not just something that matters when you’re running.
Believe and See It: Keep your mind positive with achievable thoughts, your heart strong knowing how bad you want it, and your vision focused on the goal as you see yourself reaching it.
How can proper nutrition help someone achieve their pace goals?
The importance of fueling before activity: You want to make sure your body has the proper energy it needs to perform at the demands you are about to place upon it. Crashing can come a lot sooner without the regards of mileage/pace. Depending on how much you run, this means evaluating what you put in your body every day.
The importance of fueling during activity: The longer the distance, the more important this becomes. Keeping the body fueled allows it to maintain a more leveled “charge” instead of a roller coaster of nutrition.
The importance of post-workout fuel recovery: You need to repair the muscles that were torn down during training.
Anything else you’d like to add around PR’s and faster pace goals?
Your body is like a car, it can transport you to new places with proper directions and fueling! Have a good training plan for reaching your new goals, listen to your car and watch for the warning lights to come on. Listen to your body and pay attention to how you’re feeling and to your running form because it will let you know when something is wrong. Ignoring the signs could cause a breakdown.
A PR means doing something you’ve NEVER done before so be prepared to feel things you’ve never felt before. Great things happen outside of your comfort zone so don’t be afraid to step out of it!