The Running Coach: The Warm-up Race
I talked to you a while back about prioritizing your races so that you don’t over-race and get the most out of your most important events. What I didn’t mention then, however, is that sometimes the less important races can serve as great warm ups to your big events.
The best way to do this is by running a distance shorter than your goal race and doing it around a month or so out.
Say you have a marathon on your schedule for November. A great way to gauge where you are in your training and get some pace training in is to run a half marathon in October, about four weeks prior to the marathon. Use the day to test out your goal marathon pace, test your nutrition, clothing, the whole shebang. You’ll leave the race course with a much better sense for what works/what doesn’t, and whether or not you need to adjust your goal time.
With shorter distances, you can have a similar plan, yet turn up the burners a bit. So say you are aiming for a half marathon. A month out, find a 10k or 10-miler to use as a warm up. Don’t really taper for this event other than a couple of days, but then see what you can do on tired legs. Hopefully you’ll get a taste for how your training is working, get a little boost in speed for your “A” race, and again practice your nutrition and other race-day elements.
As with anything, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Take a look at the races available to you and see if you can’t add a warm-up race to your schedule. You’ll be happy you did come the day of the “big event.”
Do you schedule a “warm-up” race? Do you try different things in each race, a different pre race routine or water station strategy? What other benefits do you see from a test race?
(Amanda Loudin is a runner, coach, and freelance writer with 15 years experience in endurance events. As a runner, she’s in perpetual training mode, usually with a slate of about eight races per year on her plate. As a coach, she has helped runners achieve their goals in every distance from 5k to the marathon. She shares her passion for the sport on her blog, MissZippy1, and daily on Twitter at @misszippy1.)