Race Pace vs. Training Pace

j0241885There are a number of training drills that call for running at 5K pace or a 10K pace. Some drills just tell you to run at your goal race pace. Though I’ve gotten into incorporating more tempo runs and speedwork into my training I still haven’t quite figured out the paces I should be shooting for in those runs. TheĀ  most I’ve taken the time to figure out is my goal time for different distances. If I took the time (and was good at math) I’m sure I could quickly figure out those different paces and times that I should be using in training.

I’ve run a consistent 9-minute mile for a long time; on longer runs I might average 9:30 and shorter runs I can usually stay under 9 minutes. These ranges are what I consider to be my “training paces.” I’d like to learn how to better use these paces during different training runs and I’d like to set more training pace goals. However, I also would like to better establish my race pace. On my recent half marathon I finally think I achieved what I could consider a race pace. Mile after mile I managed to maintain an 8:58 pace.

There is something about pinning on a number, tying a chip to the shoe, and standing in line with a bunch of other runners that changes my running mentality…and pace. What I decided at the half marathon is that “race pace” is not just a matter of achieving a certain time; it’s a much more comprehensive, mental way to run. I’m sure I could train at an 8:58 pace on a regular basis but the way I felt at that pace during an actual race was much more confident and focused than I feel during regular runs. Now that I know what race pace feels like, I think it will be easier to achieve the 5K or 10K pace that different drills call for.

What about you? What is your race pace? How do you practice for your race pace? Do you have a training pace?

One thought on “Race Pace vs. Training Pace

  1. Fingerlakes Runner

    I found your post as I’ve been working on the same problem. Perhaps it’s one that many developing runners worry about…

    My issue as a marathoner is the theory that distance training, all done at 30 seconds to a minute below goal pace for the race, will somehow on Race Day connect with shorter training (tempos) run at goal pace, allow the marathoner to extend the pace of the tempo run over 26. What miracle glue accomplishes this? My fear is that distance training and speed training are separate, and will not necessarily meet up on race day–meaning that if a tempo run of 8 miles leaves you drained on a training day, you’ll be left high and dry (tired out) too early in the marathon if you try to hold that.

    Or does Race Day accomplish some magic? Rested legs? Adrenalin? Best efforts out?

    Anyway, the difference between training pace and race pace leaves me anxious!


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