Welcome to Run With Less, Paul Addicott.
Paul is a world renowned official pacer and an award-winning blogger, documenting his running journey across the globe at the Pick Up The Pace Paul blog.
An official pacer for 75 running events and counting, Paul has a wealth of knowledge and experience.
I first met Paul at the start line of Great North Run 2018. I have followed his journey ever since.
Paul, thank you for inspiring me and your dedication to selflessly helping so many people to achieve their running goals.
It is a pleasure to chat with you.
Run With Less: How did you get into running?
Paul Addicott: I have always been active, but other than the odd bit of running at school, I never ran for running sake. I ran for sport like Rugby, but that was it. I entered my first event, Bristol Half 2006, as a challenge and it happened to fall on my birthday.
It wasn’t until 2009 when I entered the Royal Parks Half, that I decided to start running. After a period at university, this event was significantly harder than my first and I felt so unfit. It was at this point I started running. I ran to improve fitness and became obsessed with personal bests.
RWL: Improving fitness is the initial goal for many. Could you share how you became a pacer?
PA: When I was obsessed with PB’s I became aware of Xempo. I loved the concept of achieving a different colour top that you were only able to purchase if you had ran the right time. This was back before Xempo did pacing. As one of their early customers I became aware that they wanted pacers, so that’s how it started. I thought I would give something back, and just run a more comfortable race. But things changed, my attitude and approach to running really changed after pacing for the first few times, and my motivation to hit PB’s started to become a secondary priority.
RWL: Helping others to achieve their PBs became the priority. Pacing for others must be so rewarding. Could you describe how it makes you feel and how it enriches your running experience?
PA: The best way to describe this is through the London Marathon.
In 2013, I hit my PB, I loved London, but don’t remember much of it. I can’t remember the crowds, I can’t remember the people around me, I just ran.
In 2014, I paced London for the first time as the 5:14 pacer, with a run walk strategy. This changed everything for me… That feeling, I experienced London truly for the first time. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t hitting my best times, I had hundreds (literally) of people running with me, and I made a difference to their race.
Every race I make a difference to the people who are running with me, and that is worth so much more than a PB. The stories I could tell, of those that have achieved their goals running with me, this means the world to me. I try to make the experience enjoyable, and that is how the #funbus was born. I take away much of the pressure so that those around me can just concentrate on running, and I hope to be a distraction to the task at hand. Now instead of hitting a PB here and there, I experience 1,000’s of peoples PB’s every single year.
RWL: How do you keep your running simple?
PA: I try not to put pressure on myself, instead I just try to ensure I’m always enjoying the run.
RWL: Great answer, keeping the fun & enjoyment in your running is really important.
What motivates you to run?
PA: I very much turn to the social aspect. Of course I still get a buzz from achieving something, but running with people motivates me. In fact, it is mostly pacing, I just enjoy running with a big group of people all striving towards the same target.
RWL: Running has taken you across the globe, pacing for events all around the world. Which event has been your favourite?
PA: To date no race has come close to London Marathon, this is one race I will go back to every year they will let me? Maybe in 40 years I could still be driving the #funbus, who knows?
But I love pacing around the world, to take in all the cultural differences. One thing that doesn’t change is the sheer joy of running. I love running abroad, and I love pacing, so I thought to myself, why not combine the two. Now if I am looking to run an event, I will first see if I can pace it, as I get so much more satisfaction from pacing an event.
RWL: You pride yourself on running even splits. Running with such consistency & accuracy is a great skill and a fantastic achievement. Do you have any advice or recommendations for the readers on how they can hone this ability?
PA: It just takes practice. I have written a blog about getting your pace right. One thing I would say is that running even splits in a race is not as simple as running the same pace. Remember you will likely run further, markers may be out, hills, aid stations, congestion all needs to be taken into consideration. My pace often fluctuates throughout a mile, and so I work to try and even it out. I have pace and average pace on display and am constantly adjusting my pace, so the people running with me don’t have to worry about any of this.
RWL: During the summer, you reduced the number of pacing events to have some family downtime and also switching focus to a personal challenge or two – really pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone.
You have recently completed your fourth Ironman in Vichy. It didn’t go to plan on the day – but it was the Ironman you are most proud of?
PA: Yes indeed. It’s a fine balance. I don’t train anywhere near how I should. Over the years all the pacing has slowed me down, it is hard to adjust pace and I’ve got used to this running style. I also have lots of aches and pains from adjusting my running for my pacing. I don’t usually do anything for myself as I don’t want to risk not being at my best when pacing. So outside of the key months (summer and winter) I intentionally don’t enter many events. First of all it’s a bit of pay back to the family for being so understanding throughout the spring and autumn seasons. But also it enables me to do something without worrying about recovery time. Unfortunately my training isn’t where it needs to be, but I have a busy work and home life and it’s not my priority. So these events are for my enjoyment, and no other reason.
After jumoing in the water I had a panic attack, something I’ve never experienced before. After 5 minutes I had to have words with myself… it was a bad start… but I kept going, and I’m proud of myself… check out my blog for more details.
RWL: You built a pain cave shed with a treadmill to regain some speed and help train for the event?
PA: It’s working progress. At present it’s pretty much just my treadmill, but I will get there (it will take time and money to get it how I want). I want to go sub 3 in a marathon, I’m definitely capable, but know I will have to do much more than I am… my pain cave will help me get there.
RWL: What is the biggest lesson running has taught you?
PA: If you enjoy your run, it will feel so much easier.
Pain is temporary and pride is forever.Paul Addicott
RWL: Minimalism is about living an intentional life according to your own values. Could you share more about your values and how you live intentionally?
PA: Both at work and in life I have a belief that kindness is one of the most important values. I treat people with kindness and encourage my workforce to do the same. I believe that results are delivered through people, so investing in them is the best thing you can do.
RWL: Love that. What do you think about finisher T-shirt and medals – keep them all or curate the best ones?
PA: I’ve got all my medals, although some have rusted. In terms of tees, I used to be a massive fan, and still am. The problem is I’ve ran so many, so really don’t need more tees. I remember paying 30 quid in races for a tee many years ago, how times change…
RWL: How do you make time and space in your life for the important things that matter most to you?
PA: It is simple… I put my family first, work second, and run when I can. This often means that my Sunday run is the one time I run for the whole week, but it’s about prioritisation.
RWL: Do you have a meditation practice?
PA: No, but when I was pushing PBs I used to have a motto:
pain is temporary and pride is forever.
RWL: That is a great mantra. I will remember that one.
You can add one word onto the end of the phrase ‘Run With Less’. What would you choose?
RWL: Where can people find you online?
RWL: Thank you for a great interview Paul. Your dedication to selflessly helping others is inspirational and I wish you all the best for autumn marathon season where you are pacing so many people to achieve their running goals.