Preparation Races, Part II

Posted by Filed Under: Training

This is a follow-up from my last article about building up sharpness for your big goal race by completing preparation races.

Once you get closer to your final race, you might want to reconsider your approach to a preparation race. This is especially true if you are training for a marathon. If, say, you have a half marathon lined up three or four weeks before your big day, you can either try to run the half marathon all out, or you can use it as a marathon pace workout. The latter option would ensure that you do not wear yourself out unnecessarily—you certainly do not want to feel tired at the start line of your marathon.

This scenario is the perfect opportunity to test out your marathon pace. If you run the half marathon at marathon pace and yet arrive at the finish line exhausted, then you might want to reconsider your target time. On the other hand, if the pace felt easy all the way through you can take a lot of confidence into your goal race.

This strategy takes a lot of discipline. It is easy to get carried away and it can be hard to watch people pass you that you know you can beat. If you are completely unable to hold yourself back, there is a compromise. Still assuming you are running a half marathon to prepare for a marathon, you can run the first 10 miles at marathon pace. Then, if you’re still feeling good, you can race the last 3 miles all out. This should not wear you out too much, but it will make it mentally easier to stick to your slower pace during the first miles.

Of course there is nothing wrong with actually racing your half marathon. Just make sure that you will definitely be able to recover in time for your big race.

About Thomas Bubendorfer

I started running in 2004 with the goal to complete the Dublin marathon. After finishing a few minutes above 4 hours I got ambitious and decided to break the 4 hours barrier, which took two more marathons and a few painful experiences. By then I was fully hooked to running and decided to see how good a runner I could become. In the meantime I have managed to lower my best marathon time to 3:09, and I'm aiming for the sub-3 hours target. I have also fallen in love with ultra running, and despite an egregious lack of ultras in Ireland have plans for a few longer adventures over the next couple of years.

  1. nyflygirl on October 6th at 1:00 pm

    Great article!! Its actually really relevant to a half-marathon I did this past weekend…I had done my “all-out” half marathon 2 weeks earlier, this one I planned to take it easier…”easier” turned out to be a marathon pace effort. It was tough getting passed…the competitor in me had to force myself to not go after them-and was a little wistful looking at all the great times and PRs afterwards-but I was glad I stuck to plan and am definitely more confident about my goal time for NYC because of it-it was a great chance to rehearse a game-day plan, I had my good half 2 weeks ago 🙂

    nyflygirls last blog post..46 miles lie between…

  2. MartyK on July 23rd at 2:27 pm

    Here’s a story from Ben Greenfield about preparing for the Kona Ironman: