Avoid The Speed Trap
For the marathoners I coach, “speed” workouts during the final four weeks heading into a peak race orbit closely around goal race pace. A common mistake many runners like Ricky Runlong make in the final few weeks of training heading into a key race is to run all their workouts at a pace far faster than they’re capable of racing at, believing that by doing so they will make goal pace feel easy on race day. These same runners are often the ones who end up going off the starting line a lot quicker than they should and end up fading fast over the final miles. Don’t let this happen to you.
By keeping a majority of your faster running at goal race pace or just slightly faster (i.e. 10K to half marathon pace) in the final four weeks leading up to your race, you’ll better prepare your body for what it needs to do on race day. The human body is a programmable machine. If recent race results and workouts point toward a projected race pace of 8:00 per mile for the marathon, you need to develop your training to the point where you’ve practiced running that pace so much that it becomes automatic. Why spend most of your time at the track running lung-searing quarter mile repeats at 6:30 pace if your goal is to run 8:00 pace for a really long time? Specificity rules, especially the closer you get to race day.
The same principle can be applied to peaking for shorter races, as limiting your speed in key workouts to race pace or just a touch faster will allow you to recover faster, feel fresher and perform your best when it counts the most.