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.