Spring race season is in full swing. On any given weekend there are numerous races in which you can compete, from 5ks to ultramarathons. The question is should you run a race before the main event at Cap City? I believe that tune up races before a goal race are incredibly valuable. They can be used for many reasons, not the least of which is to simply go through the exercise of race morning in an event in which you don’t have much emotional investment. If you choose to run or walk in a tune up race, determine your goal for that day and stick to it. It can be very easy to go too hard and leave it all out there in that early race, leaving nothing left in the tank come April 30. Determine your goal for the tune up race and be disciplined enough to stick to your plan.
An early race, about 4-6 weeks before your goal event can be successfully used as a race predictor for your goal race (half or quarter marathon). You’d want to run a shorter distance than your goal. For Cap City half marathoners use a 10k or 15k tune up race. For quarter marathoners, run a lead up 5k or 4 miler. There are many race prediction calculators out there that allow you to put in your race time at one distance and then predict your time/pace at a different distance. They all make assumptions of some kind, but I find that a race within the last 6 weeks (but no closer than 2 weeks before) gives the best prediction because you are in good shape and ready to race. I have my own tables and estimates, so if you want a personal prediction feel free to email me. Note that your pace for your goal race will be slower than the shorter tune up race.
Maybe you don’t want to race or run hard in an early event but would like to get a feel for how you will perform on April 30. In those situations, I like to use the tune up race as a pace specific workout. Half marathoners would run a 10k or 15k with the first few miles at your easy run pace. With 3 or 4 miles to go, gradually pick up the pace to your planned half marathon pace. Quarter marathoners should pick a 5k or 4miler. Run the first mile easy then pick it up the last 2-3 miles for your planned quarter marathon pace. Feel how your body responds to that pace. Is it comfortable? It should be for 3 or 4 miles (or 2-3) at this point. If not, think about reevaluating your pace goal for your goal. Are you trying to run something that is faster than your current fitness level? If it feels good, remember that feeling. Use the finish line of this first race to prepare you for your goal race finish line feeling strong.
Practice Race Day
Even if Cap City was scheduled to be your first ever race, a tune up race is a good idea. You will simply go out and run the miles that are on the schedule for the weekend at your NORMAL easy long run pace. The only difference is that you will be doing it in a race setting. There’s no better way to get over the race jitters by having gone through everything already in an early race. You’ll practice your morning routine, warmup, and timing of the trip to the porta potty. Additionally, it’ll give you a chance to practice running in a group and drinking/eating on the run. Practice how you will go through aid stations. Are you planning on running through them and drinking while running, or slowing to a walk to get your drink. Drinking on the run takes practice and better to learn how NOT to get Gatorade up your nose now, then on Cap City day!
Schedule The Miles – How to fit a tune up race into the training plan
Good news! The Scioto Miles Training Series was developed specifically to get athletes ready for Cap City. It features a 5k loop course and runners can choose to run 5k, 10k, or 15k. If you are following the Cap City online training schedules here’s how to adjust:
Beginner half marathoners – take Saturday off or very easy 2 miles, run the 10k on Sunday, take Monday and Tue off (no running), and then pick back up with the schedule on Wednesday as written.
Intermediate half marathoners – run very easy 2 miles on Saturday, run the 10k or 15k on Sunday, take Monday and Tue off (no running), and then pick back up with the schedule on Wednesday as written.
Quarter marathoners – take Saturday off or very easy 2 miles, run the 5k on Sunday, take Monday and Tue off (no running), and then pick back up with the schedule on Wed as written.
As we draw ever closer to race day, the nerves and questions may start to crop up. That’s what we are here for, so feel free to email me or join our Twitter chat tomorrow at noon EDT using #CapCityHalf. I cannot wait for race week to meet all of you and celebrate YOU at the finish line.
Aimee – firstname.lastname@example.org