Are you training for a specific event, with a specific goal pace in mind? If so, the only way to reach that goal is to consistently run your goal pace during training. No, not all of your runs should be, or need to be, at fast paces. In fact, we suggest a ratio of 80/20 easy to hard effort training runs. If you struggle with goal pace in training, you will most likely struggle during the race.
First off, do you know what your goal pace is? Maybe you know you are shooting for a sub-2 hour half marathon. What pace is that? You can find a bevvy of online pace calculators to help you determine where you need to be at each mile. I use this one:
So, your pace would need to be 9:09 per mile to be dead-on 2 hours. Give yourself a little wiggle room by making your goal 9:00. Running this pace will put you at 1:57:59 if you run the race consistent every mile, which you most likely won’t. There are too many variables in a race to nail your splits every time. Crowded start, hills, water stops, pee stops …
To dial in a consistent pace, schedule a workout that consists of goal pace mile repeats. I call this the Mario’s Miles Workout because he does this leading up to his marathons and has a lot of success with hitting his goal paces and sticking to them even when conditions, like heat, take effect. If you train consistent, you will race consistent.
You can do this workout on a track or on the road. A track keeps all of the conditions the same, so it works well to get the overall feel of what your effort should be without a lot of adjustments.
Start by warming up with dynamic stretches and then a mile or two of easy pace running. Then do 3 to 10 sets, depending on what distance your race is, of one mile repeats (4 times around a standard track) with a 400 meter (one time around or .25 miles) walking or very slow jog recovery between. Try and hit that goal pace or slightly faster each time. If your goal pace is 8:00 miles, it is not advisable do your repeats at 6:30. 7:30-8:00 is ideal.
Finish with a mile or two easy pace running to cool down and some static stretches as your muscles start to relax.
TIP: Shirts are optional, beer is mandatory. If you know Mario, you’ll understand.