Key Workouts and Training Volume
“Basically, threshold workouts will get you more bang for your buck in terms of fitness without beating up the body muscularly and systemically,” says Shay. Aim for 2-3 of these workouts in the early weeks to build your base.
“Integrate 3-4 race-pace specific workouts with plenty of rest so that your body can adjust to the running goal race-pace,” explains Shay.
True speed sessions are incredibly taxing, and with only four weeks until race day it’s safer to do sets of strides. “Three sets of strides per week of 6-8 x 20-30 seconds,” suggests Shay. You don’t want them all-out, but rather getting a faster turnover while staying controlled.
Building mileage isn’t as important as focusing on quality workouts with only four weeks to go until your race. “I recommend increasing volume week 1, no more than 5 to 10 percent of previous mileage or minutes cross-training, holding steady week 2, decreasing 5 to 10 percent week 3 and then decreasing 20 to 30 percent week 4 leading into the race,” says Shay. If you haven’t been doing many miles prior, stick with a number that you’ve safely handled in the past and ‘spend’ your miles on the quality runs rather than easy ones.
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Predicting Your Showing
You’ve put in the work, race day is nearing, and you’d like a gauge on what to expect time-wise. “A good prediction of what your goal race-pace should be is the pace that you can maintain for a set of [four to six] 1,000- or 1,200-meter repeats with 2-3 minutes recovery. For a 5K, race pace will probably be slightly faster and for a 10K it will be slightly slower,” explains Shay. The time to do this would be your last quality session in week 3.
Use your last quality session in week 4 to prime you for the race. “The key is to get to know the pace — not to get a hard workout in … most people start their races too fast and positive split and the last workout is meant to teach the body the appropriate pace for an even-paced race at goal time,” says Elmore.
If you’re tight on training time, having a solid race and potentially even a great race, is well within your reach.