Pacesetters: who is ahead, beside and behind you?

Who is ahead, beside and behind you?

Do you have a pacesetter?  Are you a pacesetter for others?

What is a pacesetter?  When I was new to running half-marathons I often wondered who these people were who ran in the crowds with large numbers attached to them.  I discovered that they were pacesetters, or some referred to them as “rabbits”. If you have a time goal for your finish line then you can follow the pacesetter with that time.  They are so efficient at running that they are known to finish a race at that exact time. If you keep up with them, you can reach your time goal.

Although completing a marathon can be a significant milestone, what’s more important is how you run and finish your life.

According to the research of Dr. J. Robert Clinton only a third of leaders finish well.  That is a staggering statistic.  In a room of 100 people, only 30 will finish life well?  Deep inside each of us is a longing to live out our destiny and leave a legacy.  What can help us achieve that?

Clinton’s research has revealed that most leaders who have finished well have had ten to 15 significant people who came alongside to help them at various stages in life. Dr. Richard Clinton advises,

“Simply put, if you are serious about finishing well, you need to find mentors who can hold you accountable in every area of your life and ministry and who will help you avoid the pitfalls that will arise as you move through life. An effective mentor will ensure that you continue to grow and develop.” (R. Clinton, p.24)[i]

Having mentors and being in a community are key factors in setting you up for success

In a healthy community, to ensure that you finish well, you should have upward mentors (those who you look up to and learn from), side by side friends to walk with, encourage and keep accountable, as well as downward mentees (those who look up to you and you are pouring into).

When you look around, do you see these three present in your life?  If not, it is essential for you to go out and find them. Don’t wait for such people to come into your life.  It is YOUR responsibility to find them and invite them into your community.


Who is currently living where you want to end up?

Seek out people who are successfully living a life that you want to be like.  Are they achieving fitness and health goals that you want to emulate? Ask them how they got there? What type of training program and lifestyle do they adhere to?  Are they living a vibrant life that reflects joy and purpose to you? What daily habits have they implemented? What challenges have they gone through to grow in character and wisdom?  These pacesetters are gems. Value their input. Learn from them and follow in their steps.

I have had many upward mentors in my life. Usually I find a different upward mentor for different areas that I want to succeed in.  My fitness mentors are sometimes different from my business mentors, spiritual mentors, or family mentors. We are all unique and nobody is exactly like you.  So find a few people you can look up to for different reasons. Keep in mind that nobody is perfect and don’t place them on an unrealistic pedestal. Give them grace.  I’ve seen my upward mentors have bad days or make mistakes too. I still honour and value them and watch how they navigate through challenges and continue to grow through them.  Glean as much as you can from them. If you consistently walk or run at their pace and stride, you will get to where they are.


We need friends to live in community.  We are not made to live alone. Once again, I repeat, if you don’t have any in your life, it is YOUR responsibility to find some. You make friends, by being a friend.  Join a group, club or volunteer. Be friendly to your neighbours. Take a class. You can do it.

Just like mentors I have friends who identify with different areas of my life.  Not ALL my friends are into fitness! I wish! However, I love hanging out with my other friends to laugh and watch movies and play games and share life’s ups and downs with.

I do have a small group of friends who are just as committed to health and fitness as I.  One of my friends signed me up for a running clinic and told me she needed me to train with her and run a half-marathon.  I had never done that before! However, with her and another friend, we each made that goal and committed to joining this clinic, training weekly together and keeping each other accountable.  I likely would never have done this without them! I resisted at first, but this friend is very persuasive and I’m so glad I listened to her. It was one of the best milestones of my life and gave me such a sense of accomplishment, strength and joy to complete.  

Having friends ‘run’ with you (in any area of life) makes it more fun, pushes you harder, brings more joy as you celebrate victories and you feel cared for as you nurse injuries and setbacks together.

My husband loves to swim.  He has said on a number of occasions that when he is swimming lanes next to his buddy he pushes himself harder.  He swims longer, faster and enjoys it so much more. They have fun competing against each other and accomplish so much more together than training alone.


Lastly, look behind you.  If one person is following you, you are a leader and an influencer.  Now, this makes me pick up my game more than any of the others! If I am aware that little eyes are watching me, I am much more careful about how I act, speak, and carry myself.  I would never want to be responsible for someone falling because I set a bad example. Whether we like it or not, we are setting the pace for someone else, perhaps many! This is an honour, privilege, and responsibility.  Sometimes we get so busy to notice that others are looking up to us. We are at a place in life where THEY would like to be.  Make room for this in your life.  Take time to pour into the next generation.  Leave a legacy along the journey, not just at the end of life.

I ask you again, do you have pacesetters in your life and are you following them?  Who is looking to you to follow as their pacesetter?


AO1 values and prioritizes community.  We have people who truly care about each other. We’re honest to call each other out when we need that pep talk, but we do it with love. We are a community that encourages each other and celebrates victories no matter how big or small.  In this community, you will find others who are ahead of you, behind you, and beside you.

Much love and health to you!

Jasmine from ao1fitness.com


Being in a community with mentors is key to set you up for success
Side-by-side friends can motivate, encourage and keep you accountable to you goals
Who is ahead, beside and behind you?  Are you following a pacesetter?

[i] Clinton, Robert J., The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development; Published September 1st 1988 by NavPress


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