Workout of the Week: Sharpening Sessions

The main aim of your sharpening workouts is to arrive at the starting line feeling confident, rested and ready to race. Photo: Shutterstock.com

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 to 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, confident and ready to run your best.

RELATED: Tapering Dos and Don’ts For Marathoners

So what’s the best way to go about achieving this end? Definitely taper your weekly mileage (reducing your peak volume by 20-30 percent is plenty), but more importantly, try to stick as close to your regular routine as possible and be careful not to overdue it with speed workouts. Here are some examples of how to do it for a variety of different race distances:

Race: 5K/10K

Sunday: 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 a 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 (10-12 miles total)

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: RACE (16-17 miles total)

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: RACE (27 miles total)

RELATED: The Art of Peaking

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