How to Practice Your Goal Race Pace Before Race Day
Odds are at this point in your Broad Street Training you’ve landed upon a finishing time goal. There’s also a good chance your goal has varied based on your daily training. On good days you may think, “I’m feeling so good, I’m going to crush that goal, while after a rough training run, thoughts of doubt creep into your head.
Deciding on a goal race pace can seem much like an intimating guessing game where if you guess wrong you’re headed towards a world of hurt. While there’s no magic formula to guarantee your goal pace is correct there are steps you can take to help narrow down to a realistic goal.
One way to determine if your goal pace is realistic is to include race pace workouts in your training. Race pace workouts are runs where you complete portions at goal race pace. These workouts can be continuous runs at pace or broken periods at race pace with periods of slower pace for recovery.
Including race pace workouts will not only provide a chance to practice running goal pace but also give you the mental confidence needed to hit your goal pace come race, or if your goal is a bit too lofty you’ll quickly be able to adjust before setting yourself up for a painful trot through South Philly.
In order to get a good sense if your pace is feasible I’d recommend including more then two of these workouts. After each workout, it’s important to reflect on how it went. You’ll want to ask yourself, Could I have held that pace longer? If so, how much longer? You’ll want to be honest with yourself.
The key to any training program is a workout progression. I’d recommend starting off with a workout that seems feasible and adding more volume the next time. The volume will depend on your running experience. For race pace workouts it’s better to add volume first before reducing pace.
Since I’d recommend doing multiple race paced workouts it’s important to start with one you know you can complete. Use this one as a guide for the next one to add more time spent at race pace. For example if you ran 3 miles at race pace and that felt easy try 4.5 miles next time. The more difficult the workout is, the less you’ll want to add.
One great way to practice running goal pace on tired legs is to include goal pace at the end of the long run. Run the first part at your normal long run pace and then at the end include goal pace. If you want to make it even more difficult run the first part over very hilly terrain then come down to flat for the race pace. Other workouts to practice race pace would be your classic repeat intervals. Mile repeats, ½ mile repeats, etc.
Below are examples of race pace workouts progressions you can incorporate into your training. As I mentioned before start with one you feel is attainable and work through the progression or skip if capable. While there is no one single workout to predict your race pace, completing a few of these with some introspection will help give you a sense if you’re on the right track.
Examples Progression Workouts
6 Miles easy w/ 3 miles @ goal pace
5 Miles easy w/ 4 miles @ goal pace
6 Miles easy w/ 4 miles @ goal pace
5 Miles easy w/ 5 miles @ goal pace
6 Miles easy w/ 5 miles @ goal pace
2 Miles easy then alternate between goal pace and moderate for the last 6 miles
2 Miles easy then alternate between goal pace and moderate for the last 8 miles
4 Miles easy then alternate between goal pace and moderate for the last 6 miles
4 Miles easy then alternate between goal pace and moderate for the last 8 miles
4 x 1 mile @ Race Pace w/ 2 min recovery
5 x 1 mile @ Race Pace w/ 2 min recovery
6 x 1 mile @ Race Pace w/ 2 min recovery
3 x 2 mile @ Race Pace w/ 2 min recovery
2 x 3 mile @ Race Pace w/ 3 min recovery