Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way: A Critical Analysis of Pacing


Pacing, a phenomenon whereby seasoned runners assist other runners toward pre-determined goal times in races of various lengths, is a common practice, yet it has received very little sustained philosophical scrutiny. This paper aims to take steps in that direction with a particular focus on pacing in amateur distance running. We begin with Peter Arnold's analysis of the three views of sportsmanship "“ as a form of social union, as a means in the promotion of pleasure, and as a form of altruism "“ to examine how well pacing fares in each. Additionally, we incorporate the concepts of the "˜dynamogenic agent' from William James and the "˜intermediate man' from John Lachs, which raise questions of autonomy, authenticity, and assistance. Furthermore, we provide descriptions of how the unique qualities of pace groups in running exemplify sportsmanship in ways that bolster Arnold's analysis. While we write from an analytical position with regard to the topic, we also write from our own Emersonian "˜angle of vision', as one of us has experience as a pace group leader while the other has raced with pace groups in pursuit of running goals.



Document Type





running, sportsmanship, autonomy

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of the Philosophy of Sport