Your Apple Watch has a game-changer feature for recovery runs

Say hello to a new you that can run comfortably at a slower pace

Apple Watch Series 9 review
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

If you're like me as a runner, you treat every run the same way: going as hard as you can for as long as possible. If I have an hour-long lunch break, I'll cram in a 10k run, even though my Apple Watch says I should take it easy that day. At least, this was the case until I recently started using the Pacer feature to help me slow down when I really shouldn't push myself.

Those who know me well know that I have one mode, especially when it comes to running. 'Full send' is the only mode I like to exist, which often puts me in a difficult situation, especially after arduous races/events like the Mongol 100. I can't make myself run slower, even though I really should.

I know that slow running is better for getting faster and that you should do most of your runs at a lower speed to improve your running form. But whenever I start running, I automatically go into Full Send mode and speed up. This puts a lot of pressure on my cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, ultimately getting me injured – sad times.

On a recent trip to the Battersea Park Millennium Arena, I tried the track-tracking capabilities of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 (which is pretty good, by the way). In that session, someone mentioned the wearable's Pacer feature as a tool to help you adhere to a slower tempo, which startled me, as I always used it to keep a faster pace.

Once you start thinking about it, using the Pacer function to help you run slower makes a lot of sense. The main I found with running slow is that my body and mind automatically start speeding up when I start running. I think, 'Well, I can run faster than this, so I should run faster'.

Apple Watch Series 8 review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Obviously, this isn't the right frame of mind for essential recovery runs or long runs when you want to keep a slow pace to ensure you'll last until the end of the session. This is where the Pacer feature comes into play. It allows you to set your desired pace for the run – ideally, something less pacy.

Then, you stretch and get ready for the run, pop the running headphones in, and off you go. Via voice prompts, the Apple Watch will let you know if you start going too fast, which helps me tremendously in keeping my legs at bay. Now, I almost started enjoying slow-paced runs (!), something I thought was impossible.

Best of all, setting up the Pacer on the Apple Watch is super simple. Go to your workout app on the watch, then find the Outdoor (or Indoor) Run option. Tap on the three-dot menu in the top right corner, then scroll to the bottom of the page to find the 'Create workout' option.

Here, you can set your distance goal – the length of your run – and the desired time you'd like to finish said distance. When selecting the time, you can see the target pace change below the scrollers (very helpful). Once you set up this new workout, it should appear in the workout app right at the top. You can also access it by tapping the same three-dot menu in Outdoor (or Indoor) run workout modes.

That's it! Next time you head out for a slow run, make sure you set up your Apple Watch accordingly. I know I will! Haven't got an Apple Watch yet? Check out T3's roundup of the best cheap Apple Watch deals. You might also want to get decent running trainers, of which there are many on the best running shoes roundup.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.