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Training is all about applying enough overload to stimulate your body to make a change while not applying too much overload so that you end up injured. One of the most common training errors runners make is training at paces that aren't appropriate for their current fitness level. They often select paces based on a particular race goal -- rather than selecting them based on current fitness level. Let me explain.

Lets say you want to run a sub 2-hour half marathon; you might be tempted to do the math and figure out what pace per mile that comes out to and then do your training at that pace. Your reasoning is that by doing all your training at that pace, you'll increase your chances for success on race day. OK - seems logical enough. But wait... what if your current race times in recent 5K and 10K events predict you're more likely to be able to run a half marathon in 2:12 rather than the 1:59 you're dreaming of? By training based on goal time you are making the mistake of doing all your runs at race - pace (a near sure-fire way to get injured). “Racing” every training run is not the best way to build your body!

Most physiologists and race-pace prediction formulas show that an easy run pace equates to about 78% - 80% of 5K race pace. A 5K race (if you RACE it) is representative of about 97% of your maximum aerobic capacity according to most exercise physiologists. So - take your recent 5K race time, divide it by 3.1 to get your pace per mile and now you have a base to use for the calculations. Multiply that race pace per mile by 1.28 (or divide by .78) to come up with a pace that is representative of 78% effort compared to your 5k race pace.

Let's do an example:

Say you ran a 5K in 19:48. Divide that by 3.1 miles and you come up with a pace of 6:23 per mile (19.8 / 3.1 = 6.387 convert the decimal to seconds by multiplying .387 *60 = 23).

Now multiply that 6.387 race pace by 1.28 (or divide it by .78) to come up with your easy run training pace and you come up with an 8:11 pace (6.387 * 1.28 = 8.175, convert the decimal to seconds and you get 8:11).

Most running coaches recommend doing longer runs (long is relative to your weekly mileage) at even easier paces than this so remember, RELAX.... enjoy the journey!

Training is training, racing is racing.... don't race your training runs!

To your success on race day! - Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS


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