What is the Ideal Preparation for a Fitness Test Run?

by L.G.

In two months time I am trying out for a Canadian national team where one of the compontents of the try out is a fitness test which includes a 3.2km run. I have measured out the run and have just been doing it a couple times a week but there has go to be a better way to shave off time!

I'm not the best runner but want to do well. Any tips?

I'm ever so grateful!
- L.G.

Answer by Dominique:

Thanks for your question, L.G.
Yes, there are better ways to shave off time.
I'll try to give you a few tips and ideas.
You have roughly eight weeks to your Big Day, which is not an incredible lot, but still gives you some good time to improve your fitness and dedicate your time to a good running program.

A good running program makes use of the concept of periodization, i.e. cutting your running training in several blocks in which you focus on certain aspects of your running.

With eight weeks to go I think a good split would be:

  • Four weeks of base building

  • This means lots of easy paced running. The focus is on building up mileage. One weekly run should be a longer run. You need to keep in mind to increase your mileage safely.
    You can already run the 3.2 km / 2 miles, so I suggest doing a few 3-4 milers at an easier pace and add a mile here or there. The "increasing mileage safely"-page gives you a good idea of how to do this.
    Why is base building so important? Well, just imagine you'd be able to run 6-8 miles. How much easier would a 2-miler be then?

  • Three weeks with some "faster stuff".
    In this phase you would still do a long run and possibly some other easy running, but now is the time to put in some "quality" in the form of faster running. E.g. one tempo run and one interval session per week.
    Make sure you apply the hard/easy approach, so preferrably do not do two quality days in a row.
    A week could look like this:
    Monday Rest
    Tuesday Interval
    Wednesday Rest
    Thursday Tempo
    Friday Rest
    Saturday Easy
    Sunday Long
    You could also test yourself once or twice on the 3.2km run to get some race-practice.

  • One week of taper

  • With a short race like the one you are going to do a whole lot of taper is not necessary, but you still will want to avoid a hard quality workout from about three days before race day, to make sure your legs are well rested. I'd still recommend doing a quality day at the beginning of the week and put in some easy running as well, but avoid the tough workouts one/two/three days before the race.

    To use an analogy with a car:
    You first need to put the petrol in the tank and prepare the engine (= base building).
    Without this base, the car will never go far as you can imagine.

    Then you need to put in some good gearing system and possibly a stronger motor (=quality, the ability to run faster).

    Then you need to polish the car, clean the engine etc. (taper) to be all prepared for race day.

    I hope you get the general idea. This is not "The Approach" to use, you can play with the number of weeks of base building / quality etc. but it gives you a bit of a clue of what would be ideal in preparing for this race. Have a look at my running training pages for more background and ideas.

    Hope this helps.
    Best of luck with your race.

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