Long runs are a hard effort with benefits galore. But if you’re a seasoned half marathoner with a tight time goal, you need to do more than just peak with a 10 or 14 mile run.
What if you injected some race pace miles in a long run?
Is this workout for you? And how do you successfully add it?
Adding Race Pace Miles in a Long Run
While the LSD (Long Slow Distance) on your weekend long run increases your aerobic base and endurance, adding race pace miles brings a new element. These runs build off that aerobic base and teach you how to manage energy and run fast on tired legs. You’ll lock in goal pace in a much more realistic scenario – late in the run and fatigued.
What does this workout look like? Examples would be the last 30 minutes of a 2 hour run or the last 3 miles of a 12 mile run. The last leg is done at your goal half marathon pace. Some start the faster portion earlier and return to easy pace for the last mile or two.
Who is this workout for?
- Those with strong aerobic bases from earlier weeks in a program (or from previous training cycles)
- Those with a strong sense of their time goals
- Those already doing tempo runs or other speedwork during the week
What are the benefits of the workout?
- Learning how to run fast on tired legs
- Learning how to manage energy (especially good for those who fade at race end)
- Locking in your goal pace, so you know how it feels in your lungs, legs, and heart – when you’re tired
Examples of adding race pace miles
Long Run Example #1
Week 7 : 10 miles
Week 8: 6 miles with 3 HM pace
Week 9: 6 miles
Week 10: 10 miles
Week 11: 8 miles with 4 HM pace
Week 12: Half marathon race
Long Run Example #2 with over-distance
Week 14: 13 miles with 3 HM pace
Week 15: 13 miles with 5 HM pace
Week 16: 16 miles
Week 17: 10 miles with 3-5 HM pace
Week 18: Half marathon race
Dos and Don’ts for Long Run + Race Pace
1. Do other race specific training first
If you’re at a stage where you are only doing easy runs during the week and a long run on the weekend, don’t mess with the long run. First add in fartleks, tempo runs, or another hard effort in the middle of the week to spread out the difficulty.
2. Do add late in your training plan
Use slow long runs at the beginning of your plan to build up strength and aerobic endurance. Fine tune with a few Long Run + Race Pace as you get closer to race day.
3. Don’t pile on the race pace miles
Remember these are training runs, not races. Do enough to receive the benefits (3-5 miles should suffice), but still efficiently recover for your next run.
4. Don’t change two variables at once
Speed and distance are different variables. Don’t increase long run mileage the same week you add in race pace miles.
5. Don’t get sloppy
Run the race pace miles in a long run with purpose and good form. It’s an opportunity to learn to control your body when tired.
Race Pace Miles in a Long Run
Slow long runs should remain a mainstay in your training plan. Adding 2 or 3 Long Run + Race Pace workouts at the end of a long training cycle before the taper is all you need to gain the benefits of this workout without overworking yourself.
You’ll find this workout keeps you focused during your long run and gives you a harder workout without resorting an ever-increasing long run. You’ll test your mental toughness, find new gears on tired legs, and actually gain a big confidence boost for race day.