Wow, it’s hard to believe, but the Spring racing season is just ahead, with the biggest 10K in Texas only four weeks off. That’s right, the Statesman Capitol 10,000, set for April 8 at 8:00 a.m. is right around the corner. But there’s still time to polish off your training with some great workouts and the right kind of preparation.
Ready to Run’s Mac Allen, a celebrated Austin running coach (Team Mac at www.teammac.co) shares some great tips for you here as you head towards race day. While you may think it’s time to run your all-out fastest workouts to build your confidence, Mac says otherwise.
“10K training requires discipline, and it’s not the hard work, gut-it-out discipline you immediately think about,” says Mac. “I’m talking about the discipline to hold back and run easy.”
Mac explains that as the training season progresses, you’re going to want to go out and kill every run at the best effort, but that you’ll be best served by running most of the workouts slower than race pace.
“This type of training builds endurance for the 6.2 miles and prevents injury,” he says. “You’ll also show up on race day with fresh legs, an encouraging place for any runner.”
“Ideally, you build up to run easy for over-distance. In other words, try to do one run every one to two weeks of 7-10 miles. That long, slow run becomes the most important effort of the training cycle. And, to build in some taper and rest, don’t do this long run close to the race, but maybe a couple of weeks out.”
Although you’ll note that Mac stresses a more moderated approach, he also advocates the right amount of speedwork to put you at the starting line race-ready to go.
Mac trains his runners to use speedwork to improve performances and keeps their overall percentage of speedwork at no more than 10-15% of total weekly mileage.
“The [speed training] pace needs to hover around race pace or slightly faster,” says Mac. “Most folks, including me, think we are faster than we are, so bear this in mind when picking a race pace! A general rule of thumb for the 10K is 75% of all-out effort, and the pace can change as you get more fit. You should be able to finish the workout as strong as you started it, or you should slow down and pick a pace that allows you to finish the workout.”
Of course, recreational runners simply trying for a good showing at the Capitol 10K won’t need nearly as much work—only a couple of miles per week of faster running. For them, Mac suggests heading to the track and knocking out 8 x 400 meters at race pace with a 200-meter jog recovery initially and cutting down to a 100-meter jog next time you do it.
“Higher mileage runners can build this workout up to 16 or even 20 x 400-meters,” says Mac. “Or, if you don’t want to go to the track, do a 10-minute easy jog warmup and then do a three to four mile run where you repeat intervals of running three minutes at race pace and jogging two minutes for recovery, make that a one-minute recovery as you get more fit. Follow this with a 10-minurte cool-down.”
And finally, let’s not forget that the Cap 10 has plenty of hills, especially those first four miles. You’ll want to be ready for those.
“Remember the Cap 10 starts out with about four miles of hills before it flattens out some for the last two,” says Mac. “Hill workouts also count as speedwork. Find a hill that is about 200 meters and run a little faster than race pace up the hill, jogging down it for recovery. A good workout here is to do 8-12 repeats.”
Your last hard speed workout should be about 10 days before the race. And a few days before race day run 8-10 pickups of 20-30 second race pace strides. The week of the race, just get in a couple of easy runs on top of the strides.
“Make sure you take a day off the day before the race or two days before,” says Mac. “Some people like to do an easy couple of miles jog the day before. This kind of training allows you to show up fresh and uninjured for the race and chomping at the bit to have a fun competition!”
Upcoming races: Saturday, March 10 at 7:30 a.m., ZOOMA Texas Women’s 5K, 10K, Half Marathon at the Hyatt-Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa • 575 Lost Pines Avenue, Bastrop. Saturday, March 17 at 8:00 a.m., the Kyle O’Meter Shamrock Shuffle 5K at Wallace Middle School in Kyle.