After weeks and months of dedicated training and with race day just around the corner, it’s nice to know where you’re at and whether your race goal is within reach.
Completing a workout that closely mimics the physiological demands of the race will let you know exactly where your fitness is at and confirm that you’re ready to run your best.
Find below a sample of a few of the most effective and runner-approved race prediction workouts for various distances. Aim to run the workout one-to-two weeks before the race. Make sure you’re well rested before and take extra time to recover after completing the workout.
Doing the workouts on a well-established and measured route such as a track may be most effective for doing short repeats. For longer intervals, find any stretch of relatively flat road or course that closely mimics the terrain you will face on race day.
5K: Race pace 400s
The 5K is the shortest of the popular road race distances and frankly, it’s all about speed. Short, fast repeats are the best and most effective way to train for a 5K and 400m repeats are an optimal workout to test your fitness.
Complete a short warm-up then run two sets of 5 x 400m at goal 5K pace. Recover between intervals with 200m of easy jogging. Jog 400m between sets. Be sure to finish with a cool-down.
10K: 3 x 3K at race pace
The 10K requires a careful combination of speed and endurance but also mental strength to suffer for a prolonged period.
Warm-up then run three sets of 3K at goal 10K pace. Take five minutes of recovery jogging between sets. Finish with a 5-10 minute cool-down.
Half-marathon: 5K repeat tempos
The half marathon is a distance that combines and demands a high degree of speed and endurance. Because you’ll be running just above lactate threshold, longer (3-6K) tempo efforts at pace are the best way to train the body to sustain an even pace without fatiguing.
After warming up for a few kilometers, run three sets of 5K at goal half-marathon pace with a five-minute recovery jog in between. Be sure to cool-down afterwards.
Marathon: The fast finish long run
Long runs are the staple of any marathon training program and while most should be done at a comfortable and conversational pace, it’s also important to occasionally add some marathon pace efforts to build confidence and practice running at race pace.
During one of your last/pre-race long runs, do the first half at an easy pace then increase your speed and run the final 10-20K at your goal marathon pace. You can also do this gradually, building to goal race pace over several kilometers then running at or even faster than race pace for the final few. The idea is to practice running at marathon pace on already tired legs. Be sure to refuel and hydrate as you would on race day and try to mimic the marathon course as closely as possible.