Is there a difference between "pace" and "speed"? I have a feeling that with "speed" we usually specify the actual value, while with "pace" we talk more relatively. Am I right?


Yes, you are right.

Instead of speed you could use the word velocity. Either should include velocity units (distance units / time units) whenever mentioned.

Pace gives a relation to others performing the same task.

  • Set the pace.
  • He's not keeping pace.
  • I can't work at the same pace.
  • We have a pace setter for our 5k run.
  • The pace car is on the track.

In some contexts, "pace" can mean the rhythm or tempo, so the speed of a person walking with short strides and a quick pace might equal someone walking with long strides and a slower pace.

  • 2
    I would say this one hits the nail on the head. "Speed" is what a rocket or a car has, "pace" is what someone walking (because of the mechanical movement) might have. Your "pacing" is the tempo you are doing something in, right? – pzkpfw May 15 '13 at 13:04

In the context of running, "pace" can mean the inverse of speed. I.e., whereas speed is measured in units of distance per unit of time (e.g. miles per hour), pace is measured in units of time per unit of distance (e.g. minutes per mile).

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pace_(speed).


This ambiguity also occurred to me when I was practicing with a health and pedometer program. For example, reported that maximum pace (03'52"/km) and average pace (10'08"/km). This means that in average I have covered one kilometer in 10 minutes and 8 seconds and maximum speed has been 3 minutes and 52 seconds per kilometer. In terms of standard unit my average speed was (6km/h).


Pace is the inverse of speed

Someone who travels at 60 km in 60 minutes has a SPEED of 60km per hour

However, if we reverse this, they have a PACE of 60 minutes per 60 km or rather .. their PACE is 1 minute per km.

  • This answer was already given by ntc2. If you agree with another answer please upvote it, rather than posting your own. – AndyT Sep 5 '17 at 11:03

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