Workouts to Help You Avoid Going Out Too Fast in Races

If you struggle with pacing your races you might find it comforting to know that pacing is one of the most challenging aspects of racing. You’re not alone in your struggle. The great news is that there are many workouts that focus on improving your pacing skills, and with practice, you’ll soon be finishing strong.

First, it’s important to learn how to run based on effort. I explain how I teach athletes to do that here. Once you’ve read that, you’ll be able to understand these workouts that will help you learn how to pace yourself properly:

Fast Finish Run
This workout helps you learn the differences between the effort zones, and how to go from a moderate to a hard effort and back again.

Warmup: Walk 2-3 minutes, then run 10 minutes in the Yellow Zone
Repeat four times: 3 minutes in the Orange Zone, 1 minute in the Red Zone, 2 minutes in the Yellow Zone
Cooldown: Run 10 minutes in the Yellow Zone, then walk 2-3 minutes

Tempo Run
This classic workout develops race-effort stamina, to help you run faster (and maintain the pace) with less effort.

Warmup: Walk 2-3 minutes, then run 10 minutes in the Yellow Zone
Run 20 minutes in the Orange Zone
Cooldown: Run 5 minutes in the Yellow Zone, then walk 2-3 minutes

Race Simulation Run
There are a variety of ways to perform this dress-rehearsal run, and I weave it into training plans during cutback long runs of 8-12K in duration. This workout teaches you how to pace wisely on race day, starting out at an easy effort level and building to moderate and hard as you make your way to the finish line. Here’s a 12K sample workout:

Warmup: Walk 2-3 minutes
Run 6K in the Yellow Zone, 5K in the Orange Zone, and 1K in the Red Zone
Cooldown: Walk 2-3 minutes

As you gain fitness, you can run more Orange Zone kilometres and fewer Yellow Zone. A newer runner might start with a 10K Race Pace Run and run 6K in Yellow, 3K in Orange, and 1K in Red. A seasoned runner might start with the workout mentioned above.

The key is to learn how to pace yourself in all three zones and then practice them in a variety of workouts during the season. It will pay off on race day as you pace yourself to a strong finish.


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