Last But Not Least

How to make the last workout before you race count

Posted: 2 November 2004

If you’ve been training for weeks, you’ll want to make the last workout before your race count. Studies indicate the best way to prepare for a race is to reduce the volume of your running (mileage) while maintaining the intensity. These four track sessions do just that.

They should be your last quality session before a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon. Do your workout on Monday or Tuesday during the week of a Saturday or Sunday race. Start with 10 to 15 minutes of easy running, light stretching and a few strides, then pick the session that corresponds with your weekend race.


This one is called a fast-finish mile. Run one mile with the first half at 10K race pace and the second half 16-20 seconds faster. Recover with six to eight minutes of walking or jogging. Finish the session with 2 x 200m at a close-to-all-out pace with two to three minutes of recovery between.


Run one mile using the following pace breakdown: first three laps at 10K pace, last lap five seconds quicker. Jog for five minutes, then run 1,200m with the first two laps at 10K race pace and the last lap five seconds faster.


Run one mile at 10K race pace and recover with four minutes of jogging. Then run 1,200m at 10K race pace with a three-minute recovery jog. Follow with 800m at 10K pace and another three-minute recovery jog. Finish with 2 x 400m, running each 400m about eight to 10 seconds faster than you ran all the other laps. Jog one lap to recover between.


Run 3 x 1 mile at marathon pace, with a lap of easy jogging between. Then run 2 x 400m at eight to 10 seconds faster than 10K race pace with an easy recovery lap between.

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Hi all!

I want to follow a plan for training for a half marathon but it keeps mentioning a race pace! - i can't use it if i don't tknow what this is!

Please could someone please explain to me how i work out what my race pace is?

Is it my comfortable pace?
Is it my flat out pace?

How would you describe comfortable if this is it?

Posted: 03/11/2004 at 12:50

If you are training for a half marathon, I'd say the race pace in the schedule is the minutes per mile you are likely to run in the race. Although you can't really work this out precisely having never run one, you could possibly make as reasonable as possible guess at what it is.

I would say it's somewhere between those two paces you describe, but that depends how you intend to run it.. and also, if you are doing 2 miles at race pace, this pace will 'feel' very different to how the same pace would feel over 13 miles, I'd imagine.

I think the best thing to do is to run it at the pace you think you will be running the half marathon in - but I've never run one, so please correct me if I'm wrong!


Posted: 03/11/2004 at 14:20

How fast do u run in races, that speed is called race pace.
Posted: 03/11/2004 at 15:11

To find your half marathon race pace, you can either run a half marathon or run something shorter and predict your half marathon time. Either enter a race, say a 5k, or just run an all out effort for a known distance. Plug the time into a race predictor and find out what it suggests you could do a half marathon in.
Posted: 03/11/2004 at 15:15

pp - this will be my first race so i don't know how fast i should be running so as not to go too fast or too slow at the start! This is why i asked for help!

Posted: 03/11/2004 at 15:15

What are the other paces you're meant to run at in this schedule?
Posted: 03/11/2004 at 15:35


Time yourself over a shorter distance such as a 5k. Enter the time in the race result predictor you'll find at:

This will give you an idea of what half-mara time you can realistically aim at (as well as times for other distances) and on that basis you can calculate your goal pace.

Posted: 03/11/2004 at 15:36

rhl you may be looking at a schedule which is wrong for you as it looks like one for improving times, as it mentions race pace. have you done anything near this distance b4 say a 10 miler. perhaps you should be more concerned with the mileage rather than the pace if this is the first time.
Posted: 03/11/2004 at 15:52

I haven't run anywhere near the half marathon distance in training yet!

The furthest i have run is 7km in 34 mins. I know i am way off the target distance but i figured that i would follow a plan to get me there.

Markjeg - perhaps you are right. Should i just pound out the miles for now and then worry about speed etc when i have acheived the distance?

The half mara isn't until next year (gnr) but i was hoping to use a couple of smaller races as practice - say a 5 miler and a 10k.
Posted: 03/11/2004 at 16:03

I'd just do it at faster than your easy, slow or steady runs - but nowhere near all out pace, until you have a timed effort you can go by.
Posted: 03/11/2004 at 16:05

If you go to this website, (or the one mentioned above) and look at the running calculator, you can plug in your time above (closest on there was 4 miles, sadly no 7K).

That tells you predicted times for all the different distances and the pace you'd need to be doing to acheive that.

If you train on a treadmill, you can just plug that speed in (although you'll have to convert to kph rather than mins per km) and away you go.

Good luck
Posted: 03/11/2004 at 17:02

depends on your training and your age
Im 50 been running for 12years
how many times a week are you running
distance you are covering each day
myself I run 6 days a week between 40-45miles/week
Sat 13-14 miles at 8min/mile
Sun 6miles 7.30-7.45min mile pace
Mon 4miles 6.45-7.00min/mile
Tues 7-9miles 7.30-7.45min/mile
Wed 4mile 6.45-7.00mins
Thurs 8-10miles 7.30-7.45min/mile
Friday rest day
This normally gives me around
1/2 marathon 7.10-7.20 mile pace 1hr 35mins
10ks around 6.50-7.00mins 42mins total
for marathons I increase my long runs upto 20miles 7.30-7.45min/mile 3hr15m-3h30m
hope this helps

Posted: 03/11/2004 at 19:31

Do you have a heart rate monitor?

Measure your minimum heart rate. This will be lying down in bed, first thing in the morning.

Measure your maximum heart rate. Run 3 x 800m intervals with a 1 minute rest between them as hard as you can.

[Alternatively, use the approximation of 220 minus your age.]

Your half-marathon pace will be the speed that brings your heart rate up to approximately 85% of the way between your min and max.
Posted: 03/11/2004 at 19:44

RHL, always find 2hrs great for starters, thats 9 min mile pace. Its your first one enjoy it at the same time as running it. Go on from there, its a realistic starting point with scope for realistic imrovement in the future.

Just helped friend from nothing to 1/2 in 1.58 in 3 mths at that pace for her first.

Good luck whatever you decide.
Posted: 03/11/2004 at 21:17

looks like you have allowed yourself plenty of time. you need to do some races quite soon to establish how you are running now, then slot yourself in to a schedule according to that. 8k = 5 miles so look arround that distance to start, then build up to 10 miles over the next 6mnth. this still leaves you lots of time to build up to running for 13.1mi
Posted: 04/11/2004 at 12:33

I'm fairly new to running , but when I was cycling , race pace was about 80% of maximum heart BPM (220 minus your age is max I believe).This was regardless of the time trial being 10 , 25 or 100 miles , it was all as painful as a near death experience . If I was brave enough to plan for my first half marathon , I would probably cut out most of the technical gumph , train regularly and have fun . The technical improvements and race pace calculations I would leave for the next one !! Good luck .
Posted: 05/11/2004 at 12:23

More advice for you , cant resist it.
From your profile I note that you have the benefit of youth! But there is no mention of joining a club. You would find that a great help and motivation and find out a lot about your pace compared to a wide range of others.
If like me your profile says you train 1 to 3 times a week I think it is important that that becomes definitely 3 times.
How about considering this first half M as a training run for experience and as already said forget about the technical stuff. Finally from talking to others it seems it takes quite a time to achieve your potential although the younger you start the better. Oh and avoid injury, perhaps invest in a session with a sports physio with running experience. Mix all the advice together and enjoy!!

Posted: 05/11/2004 at 20:10

Hi RHL, 7km in 34 minutes is about 8 minute miling. I would try estimating 9 minute miling as your race pace for a half marathon to start with.
Don't worry if it turns out to be 10 minute miling (or more). Just aim to finish the first half and set a benchmark for your second.
Posted: 08/11/2004 at 14:20

Hi all. Thanks for all your advice. i'm going the gym tonight so i'll see how i get on.

Looks like RW has been paying attention to this thread because they have put somethin on my home page about a race pace calculator!

Thanks again.

Posted: 08/11/2004 at 16:57

hi just joined. very informative site. training for our first 10k has anybody got any good tips? been running for about 18 months but don't seem to get any faster. have gone the distance (10k) weekly but still plodding along.
Posted: 05/12/2004 at 11:07

RHL - good advice just to treat the first 1/2M as a trial to see how you cope - my first 1/2, the only thing I wanted to do was get round without walking, as close to 2 hours a possible.

Bill - it seems you've got to a plateau - try doing some fartlek training. The idea is to run at different speeds, for different amounts of time, but have fast bits, and slow bits(for recovery) (the fast ones should be faster than normal pace, and longer than the slow ones), so that you're average speed is faster than your normal speed. This increases the work your heart does, and gets it used to working at faster harder conditions. then make the slower bits shorter (or slightly faster), or make the faster bits longer, and gradually your average speed increases.
Posted: 06/12/2004 at 13:47

jon robinson,thanks for the advice and will try,thanks
Posted: 07/12/2004 at 17:53

I think Fartlek works, and when you then go back to your normal pace, you are able to go a little bit faster without realising it because you have been sprinting - so your slow pace becomes faster - does that make any sense -like when you come off the motorway. I know what i mean.
Posted: 07/12/2004 at 18:00

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