Running Fast Racing Slow

by Cindy
(San Francisco)

I have got a problem. For my last few 10k-races I was able to run my goal time in my training plenty of times. However, come race day I could not reach my goal pace and had disappointing finishing times.

How can this happen and do you have a solution to this?
Many thanks in advance.

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Cindy,
Thanks for your excellent question.
There are plenty of runners who face this very same problem.

It concerns me that you ran your goal time in training plenty of times. This tells me that a lot your training must have been very, very fast. Possibly you tried to beat your goal time continuously? In that case you have not allowed your body to rest. After weeks (?) / months (?) of very fast running your body must have gotten very tired. And when you had to run on race day you were too empty to get to your goal time.

I can imagine this is very disappointing. All that hard running and then you don't make it happen on race day.

However there is a solution: stop running so hard continuously.

The bulk of your running should be easy running. The pace at which you'd be able to maintain a conversation. After you can do that, put in a few hard runs, e.g. repeats, tempo running, some hills maybe. Repeats will even go faster than your 10k race pace. Which you will be able to do well if you take it easy on other runs.
You see, every running speed serves a different purpose. You need to cover all speeds in training to make sure your body is optimally prepared for your races.

I guess it is easy to just get out and run as fast as you can. It is far better to follow the rigour and discipline of a structured running program.
Do that, and I am sure you will easily beat your goal time in races. You have already done it in sub-optimal training. Use a good running program and you will fly on race day!

Best of luck and happy running.

P.S. I can highly recommend Daniels Running Formula for a great 10k running program. It is tough with some back-to-back hard days which you will like and it pays off the dividends.

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