When you have a goal race coming up, you may want to test yourself a few weeks ahead of time to see where you’re at before you toe the start line. Similarly, it’s a good idea to test your fitness at the beginning of a training block and then again near the end to get an idea of how you’ve progressed. While there are many ways you can do this, we spoke with Mile2Marathon coaches, Lauren Andrews and Mathew Travaglini, who gave us their favourite fitness-test workouts for you to try before your next race.
The 8K time trial
Andrews really likes using off-distance time trials as a way to gauge fitness before a race, because since you race this distance infrequently, your desire to compare your result to a previous personal best won’t be as strong as it would be in a 5K or 10K trial. Her favourite distance for this purpose is 8K.
“This distance is short enough to not require extended recovery after, but long enough to be relevant to someone, say, beginning a marathon build or in mid-build,” she explains. “You can easily calculate the equivalency of an 8K to a 5K, 10K or even half marathon too.”
Andrews emphasizes that a time trial should be done a minimum of two weeks out from a big race, but preferably you should use it as an assessment of your progress midway through your training. Even though this is a time trial and not a real race, you want to do your best with it in order to determine where you’re at as accurately as possible, so make sure you prepare properly before you start. Get plenty of rest, stay properly hydrated and be sure to fuel appropriately before the workout.
Travaglini says the type of workout you do to test your fitness will be slightly different depending on the race you’re training for, but he really likes to use medium-length intervals (anywhere from 800m to 1,200m) at your goal race pace that covers about 60 to 80 per cent of your race distance. For example, if your goal race is a 5K, he suggests the following workout:
Warmup: 10-15 minutes easy jog, followed by drills and strides
Workout: 5 x 800m at goal race pace with equal rest (so if you take 4:00 to run 800m, give yourself four minutes of rest)
Cooldown: 10- to 15-minute easy jog, followed by light stretching