With fall racing season upon us, it’s just about time to test your fitness in a race. If you’re looking to do one hard effort ahead of the start line, here are some sample workouts that will provide a good indication of where your body is at and what pace you should run on race day. Below are possible race-pace predictors of various distances.
Nick Symmonds is a two-time Olympian in the 800m. The runner published a YouTube video last week detailing what is, in his opinion, the best indication of 800m fitness. The workout is three by 400m repeats on four minutes’ rest. The goal of the workout is to be consistent, so if you’re planning to give this workout a try, the first interval should feel manageable. The average of your three laps will give you what you could likely hold for 800m straight.
For a 5K, your race-pace predictor is two sets of five by 400m repeats at your goal pace. This workout is actually very similar to the 800m pace predictor, the difference lies in the rest. Ideally you’ll jog 200m between intervals and jog 400m between sets.
After warming up for a few kilometres, run three sets of 5K at goal half-marathon pace with a five-minute recovery jog in between. Be sure to cool down afterwards.
Your longest long run is a great dress rehearsal for your goal race. Hugh Cameron, who coached runners like the late Sylvia Ruegger to a Canadian record, says that your longest long run should be two weeks out from your race. “If an athlete’s program and training have gone well, then the ideal time for the final long run is two weeks out. If the buildup went well, and you are fit, you should not have any issues with tiredness or dead legs.” Cameron reminds that this long run can be near goal pace, but shouldn’t be the length of a full marathon. He recommends 30 to 35K.
In this run, do everything you plan to do on a race day. Eat familiar food, wake up at a similar time and get into the race mindset. This way you can work out the kinks ahead of the big day.
Another popular marathon pace predictor is the Yasso Method. Named after former Runner’s World editor Bart Yasso, this workout takes your marathon goal time in hours and minutes and puts it in minutes and seconds (for example, 3 hours 10 minutes to 3 minutes 10 seconds). Do 10 repeats of 800m intervals at this pace, with a recovery jog that’s the same length of time as your interval.