To make the most of a workout, experts say set the proper pace

Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:06am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Whether the goal is to finish a marathon, polish a tennis game or make the most of that hour at the gym, fitness experts say pacing can spell the difference between success and stagnation.

Setting the proper workout pace, or the distribution of energy during exercise, deflects boredom and fatigue, syncs body and mind, and enables the everyday exerciser to keep pushing the envelope.

Dr. Kevin G. Thompson, author of “Pacing: Individual Strategies for Optimal Performance,” believes how people prepare their bodies and minds for activity is limited by their lack of understanding about how to pace the exercise.

“Unless the athlete knows what the ideal pace is, how can he or she train properly to improve performance?” said Thompson, director of the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise at the University of Canberra, Australia.

His book details pacing strategies specific to activities from triathlons to tennis.

In marathon races, Thompson said, the classic beginner's error - starting too fast to try to keep up with the better runners - causes a mind-body split.

“You body’s feedback says you’re exercising too hard even as your brain knows you’ve still got a long distance to go,” he said. “That makes for a negative experience.”

Group classes, which usually cater to all fitness levels, are generally paced around a bell curve model, explained Donna Cyrus, senior vice president of programing at Crunch, a chain of U.S. fitness centers.   Continued...