By Stuart Galloway
I personally think you need to practice running at your desired race pace to get a feel for it and to be able to run relaxed and efficiently. When I can do the workout at my goal pace with the prescribed recovery, I know I can likely maintain that pace for the race distance. This makes determining pacing under race conditions much easier and is a good confidence booster. As most of us know, starting a race at too quick a pace can have a detrimental effect on your finishing time, especially in the marathon. Adjusting for temperature, humidity, wind or altitude makes determining your race pace hard enough as it is, even when you have a good idea what your goal race pace should be. In the Niagara Falls Marathon I had to adjust race pace by 10–12 seconds per kilometre right from the start because of the humidity and wind. Looking at my splits after the race, I think it was the right decision.
For racing a 1,500m or mile: 10 x 400m at 1,500m race pace with 2 minutes full recovery
For racing a 5K: 5 x 1K, at goal 5K race pace, with 200m jog recovery between each rep
And for the marathon: 20–25K tempo runs, trying to hit marathon race pace for most, if not all, of the run
I read a quote recently from U.S. Olympian Jenny Simpson that sums it up perfectly: “The secret to racing is not digging deeper for more than you’re capable of; it’s about knowing exactly what you’re capable of.” I have a few favourite workouts I like to do depending on the distance, with all of them being race pace specific for different events, but the 5 x 1K has to be my personal favourite.
This article originally appeared in the January & February 2018 issue of Canadian Running magazine.