What is a paceline and why is it important?
Well, in terms of inline skating, a paceline is a group of skaters skating closely together in a row front to back to maximize speed and efficiency. Drafting the person in front of you allows you to take advantage of that skater's energy and momentum and reduce the amount of energy you're putting into the effort of skating. It also means you don't have to fight the wind like you would if you were skating on your own. To give the person in front of the paceline a break, skaters trade off taking the lead - the front skater drifting off to the side and rejoining the line at the end of the group.
Pacelines form during inline skating events, with skaters joining the paceline that fits their level of ability and speed. Skaters can jump from line to line as their energy levels dictate. Bikers also use pacelines in a similar manner during races, drafting the bikers in front of them wheel-to-wheel to enhance performance.
If you're thinking about an inline marathon, try practicing pacelines with a group of skaters (find local group skates in the Twin Cities here). You'll be amazed at how much of a difference they make in your skating performance! Interval training will also help you prepare for an inline marathon, conditioning your heart to better adjust to changes in speed as you jump between pacelines throughout the race.