Training versus Races

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Captainblood
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Training versus Races

Post by Captainblood » Sun Nov 16, 2014 10:07 am

I just wanted some input from more experienced runners than myself. My training this year under Tinman's program has been fabulous. Not a single day missed due to injury or sickness. I have run six 5ks with a first, four 2nds, and 6th place overall finishes. And I set a 19 second PR earlier in the year (17:54).

A reminder that I do all workouts on a treadmill on a zero percent incline.

A year ago I was doing 5 x 1200m @ 5:45/mi with 400m jog rest @ 9:00/mi. Yesterday I did 8 x 1000 @ 5:49 with a 1:00 jog rest @ 10:00 (which ends up being closer to 50 seconds). I felt so good I tacked on an 800m @ 5:30/mi and still felt great.

The dilemma is that I am not racing as fast as my workouts indicate I should be. Now I know some of the issues. The summer has been hot. Two of my races were in 83 and 85 degree weather. But my last race was 55 degrees and windy with an uphill finish. As a result of the wind and the uphill finish I was hesitant to leave the lead pack of 5 even though I felt great through 2 miles (5:55, 11:55). I closed with a 5:38 mile (even with the hill) and finished 2nd to a high school senior.

I am not worried. I know the workouts I am doing have to translate to faster race times eventually. But what can I do to gain the confidence and the fitness to not be afraid to break away from the leaders with 1000 meters to go? I have had three straight 2nd place finishes and been beaten to the line in the last 200 meters by runners 20 years my junior. I want to develop the mental toughness to take the lead and avoid a sprint finish.

I have recently been tacking on a 1/4 or 1/2 mile rep at 5k/10k pace at the end of my tempo and interval workouts to simulate the finish. A typical race is the first 2 miles at 6:00/mi pace and then a last mile in 5:35 to 5:40. Can anyone recommend a workout that would simulate the first 2 miles of the race and then prepare me mentally and physically to leave the pack at a much faster pace?

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Re: Training versus Races

Post by dilluh » Sun Nov 16, 2014 2:04 pm

A similar thing happened to me in yesterday's race. There was a group of three of us at 1.5 miles and I was tucked in really comfortably as we started into a slight head wind. I just decided at that point I'd make a move because (1) I was confident in how much gas I had in the tank and (2) I sensed that the two of them were not speeding up and that they were near red-line already. That was really all it took. I maintained the same pace for the last mile and the two of them ended 25-30 meters back. To me, if I find myself in a race situation where I'm battling for a good finish position-wise and I'm fit, I guess I'd like to be the person making the moves rather than the one having to respond to others. That and staying in control for the first half of the race, finding a spot and not wasting energy. I feel like the mental barrier of creating a decent gap (which was enough such they couldn't draft off of me) with significant racing left to be done is really hard to overcome for a lot of runners (especially younger ones).

All of that goes out the door if my goal is to run a fast time or PR. In that case, let me be a mid-packer and have lots of people to chase after. =]

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Re: Training versus Races

Post by Captainblood » Thu Nov 20, 2014 9:59 am

I don't have trouble leaving a group when I have someone to chase. The problem I have is leaving the group to move into the lead. I really don't like doing it until I can taste the finish line and surge home. I feel like I am naked out front with a huge target on my back.

I was thinking about a workout that might help me mentally with this issue. I come through 2 miles pretty comfortable. It feels like threshold pace to me. Has anyone tried or had any success with a workout like this:

2.6 miles at threshold pace
.5 miles at 5k pace

Threshold pace for me is a tad faster than half marathon pace. Would there be any additional physiological benefits of a workout like this as opposed to a straight 3.1 mile tempo run?

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Re: Training versus Races

Post by Schebo » Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:56 pm

Captainblood wrote:I don't have trouble leaving a group when I have someone to chase. The problem I have is leaving the group to move into the lead. I really don't like doing it until I can taste the finish line and surge home. I feel like I am naked out front with a huge target on my back.

I was thinking about a workout that might help me mentally with this issue. I come through 2 miles pretty comfortable. It feels like threshold pace to me. Has anyone tried or had any success with a workout like this:

2.6 miles at threshold pace
.5 miles at 5k pace

Threshold pace for me is a tad faster than half marathon pace. Would there be any additional physiological benefits of a workout like this as opposed to a straight 3.1 mile tempo run?
You need to get used to running all out without anyone pulling you along. Run a 5 km time trial and make sure you´re working hard all the way. You should do it on the road without distance markers or GPS watch and instead learn to push by feel. Remember that a 5 km race should feel very hard. The first km should be controlled, but then you should stare down the abyss for the rest of the race.

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Re: Training versus Races

Post by Tinman » Fri Nov 21, 2014 3:36 pm

Schebo makes a good point. The art of being able to push oneself when nobody is around you takes practice, commitment, and willingness to suffer.

One method to work on such toughness is to run 3 x 1 mile at 5k pace with a 2-3 minute jog, but even run the last rep faster than average 5k pace. It's a workout you do when you are not racing much; it toughens you for competition. I don't advise runners who regularly race to do repeat miles at 5k pace, but if you haven't run a 5k race in a while, it can do you a lot of good. Just be sure to do such a workout a full week or so before the goal race, not in the last 5 days because you probably will be "flat" on race day if that workout is too close to the race.
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Re: Training versus Races

Post by Captainblood » Sat Nov 22, 2014 2:59 pm

3 x 1 mile at 5k pace with 2-3 minutes of rest is a tough workout. I wouldn't think it would be, but I know when I have tried 5 x 1k at 5k pace with a 2 minute recovery and it was very hard. I didn't think it would be, but it was.

I am in much better shape now so it is possible 3 x 1 might be more manageable. So this would be a good rustbuster 10 days out from a race? I don't race often.

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Re: Training versus Races

Post by Tinman » Sat Nov 22, 2014 5:43 pm

In high school, we would do 3 x 1 mile or 4 x 3/4th mile at goal pace for 3 miles with a quarter mile jog between reps. We would do 6 x 1/2 mile even faster (about 2-mile pace) with quarter mile jog recoveries. I know exactly what those workouts feel like. They are hard, and it is a race-like effort. Again, older and wiser now, I advise runners to use such workouts when they have not been racing enough or much in the last few weeks but they need to get race-ready. An equivalent way to handle the situation to do an under-distance time-trial. For example, run a 2-mile time trial 10-14 days before a goal 5k race. The key is not to fret about your under-distance time. Too many runners freak out that they did not set a PR/PB in a time-trial, and they panic that they won't be ready for the big race.

The lesson I learned more than 25 years ago is that when I had not been racing often, I lacked familiarity with pushing myself hard in a sustained fashion, as in racing. Thus, I might run a time-trial for 2 miles 10-14 days before a 5k race and then on race-day run the exact same pace for the ENTIRE 5k distance. The time-trial served as what I call a "Rust-Buster".

I've prescribed a 3000m time-trial for Andrew Duncan on numerous occasions, about 10-12 days before a goal race, and he's run around 9:30, and then on race day run 8:48-50 (in his mid-late 40s). I once prescribed a workout to a runner who ran 1600m in 4:40 (70 seconds per 400m (jog 400m), and 2 x 1000m in 2:50 (68 seconds per 400m pace) (with 400m jog recoveries) + 2 x 200m in 30 seconds (jog 200m between). He struggled to run the workout and worried that he was not fit. Twelve days later he ran 8:17 for 3,000m in an indoor race, which is an average o 66.3 seconds per 400m. He ran negative splits, too, in that race.

Always keep perspective! Never panic! A rust buster workout, race, or time trial will help you immensely when you have not raced much or ran hard workouts lately. Just don't get carried away and run too many hard workouts or time-trials. Be confident!

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Re: Training versus Races

Post by Captainblood » Sun Nov 23, 2014 10:29 am

I'm afraid what I am reading is confirming what I suspected. Since the races don't contain a lot of fast runners I think I have been content to stay with the leaders and run a strategic race instead of push myself to the limits. Most races I don't suffer that much until the last mile or so and I am recovered in a day or so. My 19 second PR was in a race where the leaders were much faster than me and I ended up finishing 6th. The other races this year I have a first and four seconds. I don't believe I lost any of those races to inferior runners, but I believe I could have run faster.

My fitness is top notch so I am not worried about that. Tinman's program is a repeatable 8 week program culminating in a race. I have sliced off a few seconds per mile off workouts each time through. Now I am feeling so fresh that I have been tacking on a 1/2 mile at 5k pace at the end of interval sessions.

I don't mind if I run a race slower than my potential if I win the race. But help me through this. I ran a 5k in 17:54 earlier in the year. Conservatively I estimate I am capable of running 20 seconds faster than that now. The leaders in most races are hitting 2 miles at around 12:00. Some of these races the conditions were horrible: 85 and muggy. As things cool down things will speed up.

This feels like tempo pace to me. I almost always finish the last 1.1 miles at 5:38 pace. And the pack is generally 3 to 5 runners and I generally finish 2nd after being outkicked in the last 200 meters by a runner 20 years younger than me. How would you advise someone to train for this type of race and how would you advise them to approach the race?

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Re: Training versus Races

Post by dkggpeters » Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:00 pm

Schebo wrote: You need to get used to running all out without anyone pulling you along. Run a 5 km time trial and make sure you´re working hard all the way. You should do it on the road without distance markers or GPS watch and instead learn to push by feel. Remember that a 5 km race should feel very hard. The first km should be controlled, but then you should stare down the abyss for the rest of the race.
This is so true. I made a comment to the same regard on the runners world forum that after a mile you should be hating life and opting for a root canal instead. It is funny how many people then question what you are saying and think that you are crawling at the end.

Learning to run hard by yourself is key.

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Re: Training versus Races

Post by dilluh » Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:06 pm

It seems like you are running the races based on the competition around you which is not a bad thing at all if the goal is to place as high as possible! My 5k PR came in a win where I was leading the entire race (nobody showed that day). My second fastest time in 5k came in a race I came in 4th with really no one to chase. To me, there are three scenarios I typically encounter in local-yokel races:

(1) Competitive race: if it looks like it’s going to be a competitive race, then I get a bit more strategic and have never PRd under these conditions.

(2) Everyone slept in for this one: If it looks like no one showed up that morning then it becomes a time trial.

(3) A group of runners who are clearly at a different level than me show up: Right from the gun it’s obvious they’re going to be a minute or more faster than me, again, time trial mode ensues.

For (2) and (3) I can focus on “‘hating life and wishing the world that this would end soon’ for the final two miles” which is a pretty apt description of how a very hard 5k race feels to me. Maybe a balls-out solo time trial is the way to go here - you might surprise yourself with how deep in the well you can go when there’s no distraction.

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Re: Training versus Races

Post by Josh_1 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:52 pm

Tinman - what do you consider to be "not racing much"? Once per month? Less than once per month?

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Re: Training versus Races

Post by Tinman » Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:47 pm

Overall, you have to know what you need to get race-ready. Most runners need a race every 2 weeks to be "in-tune" and capable of running to their limit. So, if you run races just once a month, you may have to run a harder workout 10-14 days before an important race. This is more for the 5k - 10k runner. The marathon runner doesn't need to be nearly as "sharp" because it's far more of an endurance and strength event. But, a race like a 10k two weeks before a marathon serves as a good tune-up, as does a longer race about 3-4 weeks before your marathon.
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Re: Training versus Races

Post by Captainblood » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:13 pm

I am often running to win as opposed to trying to set a PR. I let others set the pace even if it is a bit slower than I would prefer. I draft and wait. This is mentally and physically easier for me. Usually the pace quickens at the 2 mile mark and the pack breaks up.

I used to do a lot of hard effort runs. Depending on how I was feeling it would be 98% and sometimes I would be redlining.

Almost a year ago I adopted a more moderate approach. I am much fitter, but maybe I lost a racing edge I used to have when I was training harder.

Since I only race every two months I believe I do need a hard effort workout a couple weeks prior to race day to bust the rust and perhaps let my brain know it's okay to cut loose on race day. I used to do a hard 3 mile run quite regularly, but I now do more moderate tempo runs.

Would a 3 mile run at 10k pace (which is the same as CV pace for me) be of value 10 days prior to race day?

Or am I better off with a 5 x 1000 at 5k pace with a 2 minute recovery or 3 x 1 mile at 5k pace with 3 minutes recovery?
Last edited by Captainblood on Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Training versus Races

Post by Tinman » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:18 pm

It depends upon what you need. If you have been doing some 5k paced workouts, then the sustained 3 mile run at CV pace in a workout 10 days before your goal race would be effective as a training/preparation tool. If you have not been doing 5k races or workouts and rather tempos, threshold or CV for a few weeks, then a 5k paced workout performed 10 days before your goal race would be effective. Usually the the type of training you have neglected is what will give you the most benefit.
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Re: Training versus Races

Post by Captainblood » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:26 pm

Okay. I'll give the 3 mile "hard effort" a shot 10 days out. It was usually a good indicator workout for me. I'll aim for CV pace and if it is a breeze then at least I'll have a better idea where I stand and be more confident to go out harder in races,

And I'll also make an effort to be more aggressive in races as opposed to letting others dictate the pace. It's something I need to work on.

Thanks everyone!

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