Workout Of The Week: Race Week Workouts

Aim to make your key workouts the week before a race as specific as possible. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Follow these suggestions and step to the starting line with confidence on race day.

Race week can be summed up as a stressful stretch of days culminating in, at most, a few hours of extreme effort. No big deal, right?

After months of mega mileage, dozens of long runs and week after week of killer workouts you’re in the best shape of your life. All you need are a bunch of days off and one or two more really fast speed sessions in the few days before the race rest your legs and put a cap on your confidence levels.

Or maybe you don’t.

Many competitive runners have their trigger finger too close to the panic button in the final seven days before a big race. The tendency is to drastically reduce your training volume, take a lot of days off (you want to be well rested, right?) and spin your wheels so quickly when you do run that race pace feels like a glorified jog.

Woah woah woah, not so fast!

Regardless of your ability level, you can lose a lot more than you’ll gain during race week. The main goal of a race-week workout(s) is to keep the ball rolling (if you’re not used to taking days off in training, now is not the time to start doing it!) and get to the starting line feeling calm and confident that you’re ready to run your best on race day.

So what’s the best way to go about achieving this end? Definitely taper off your overall weekly mileage a little bit (reducing your peak volume by up to 20-30 percent is plenty), but more importantly try to stick as close to your regular routine and make your final workouts as race-specific as possible. Here are some examples of how to do it:

Race: 5K/10K

Sunday: 8-10 miles easy
Monday: 4-6 miles easy + 6 x 20-second strides
Tuesday: 2-mile warmup, 3 x 1 mile @ 5K-10K race pace (no faster!) with 2-3:00 recovery between reps, 2-mile cooldown
Wednesday: 4-6 miles easy
Thursday: 2-mile warmup, 8 x 200m @ 3K-5K race pace with SLOW 200m jog recovery between reps, 2-mile cooldown
Friday: 3-5 miles easy or OFF
Saturday: 3-4 miles easy + 6 x 20-second strides
Sunday: 5K or 10K RACE

Race: Half Marathon

Sunday: 10-12 miles easy
Monday: 4-6 miles easy + 6 x 20-second strides
Tuesday: 2-mile warmup, 2 miles @ goal half marathon race pace, 1 mile easy, 5 x 1:00 pickups @ 5K-10K race pace with 2:00 jog recovery between reps, 2-mile cooldown
Wednesday: 4-6 miles easy
Thursday: 2-mile warmup, 3 x 800m @ 10K race pace with 400m jog recovery between reps, 2 x 400m @ 5K race pace with 200m jog recovery between reps, 2-mile cooldown
Friday: 3-5 miles easy or OFF
Saturday: 3-4 miles easy + 6 x 20-second strides
Sunday: Half Marathon RACE

Race: Marathon

Sunday: 10-12 miles easy
Monday: 4-6 miles easy + 6 x 20-second strides
Tuesday: 2-mile warmup, 6 x 800m @ 10K race pace with 2:00 recovery between reps, 2-mile cooldown
Wednesday: 4-6 miles easy
Thursday: 2-mile warmup, 2 miles at goal marathon pace, 2-mile cooldown
Friday: 3-5 miles easy or OFF
Saturday: 3-4 miles easy + 6 x 20-second strides
Sunday: Marathon RACE

RELATED: The Art of Peaking

Do you have a time goal for your next half marathon? Competitor.com has training plans built to get you to your goal. Check ‘em out!

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