Race Pace Effort Adjustable Workout

As you probably know, my last marathon was in November and since then I haven’t done any races (other than a virtual 10k) and almost all of my runs have been at an easy pace. My mileage has been lower to work around the winter weather and I have pretty much just done whatever pace felt good each day. I’ve been getting to the point where I want to start varying my paces again (although mother nature likes to get in the way of those plans) but it can be challenging to do that when I’m not even sure where my fitness stands right now. 

race pace effort adjustable workout

I actually do have a 10k coming up in April and I would like to sign up for a 5k over the next few months as well. So where to begin? I’ve never specifically trained for a distance shorter than a half-marathon, and I’m not feeling like I want to follow any sort of training plan, but I do want to  get a little bit of speed back into my legs. I’ve posted 5k workout here and here, as well as a fartlek workout that is great for getting back into speed work. 

As I thought about preparing myself for this 10k, I realized I have no idea what my 10k pace would be, or what I should work towards as a reasonable goal. I created this workout to help my legs get used to the different range of paces once again, from a marathon pace to a 5k pace. These paces are based on effort, and the thought was that I would run as hard as I would expect each pace to feel and then get a sense of where my paces are right now. 

workout

As expected, it was much easier to fall back into a marathon pace than a 5k pace. After all, those marathon paces were engrained into my body for several months last fall, and I have run some of my miles since then at or around that pace. The 5k paces, on the other hand, I haven’t gone near since probably September. I really struggled to even differentiate between 10k pace and 5k pace (although this was a hilly route, and I’m pretty sure the entire 2 minutes of 5k pace was all uphill). 

garmin paces

Something else to consider when looking at the 5k pace is that this was the last interval of each set, meaning my legs were already tired from 11 minutes of hard running. However, this gives me a good starting point. My PR in the 10k was around a 7:38 pace, three years ago, and I have run faster 10ks than that in training runs since then. At this point a PR is probably a challenging but attainable goal. If I can put in some work, that is. 

Here are a few other notes about this workout:

-You can certainly change the amount of time for each interval, but I would recommend keeping the marathon paces the longest, and decreasing the length of each interval as your pace increases.

-I just repeated the interval once (so two sets in total) but as your fitness improves you can repeat twice or even three times. 

-Running this on hills is challenging (and a great workout) but remember that you are running by effort and the paces on your watch will not necessarily reflect how it felt.

-Take as much or as little recovery as you feel you need between each set. I was pretty beat from the 5k effort, so I took five minutes of recovery so that I would feel strong on the next set. 

-Remember that warm up, cool down, and recovery pace should be slower than marathon pace (at least 45 seconds but preferably 1-2 minutes). I probably should have slowed down my recovery even more but part of it was on a long downhill which made that pace feel easier. 

Let me know what you think of this workout if you give it a try! I found it to be a nice way to ease back into running harder paces without feeling too intimidating. 

Are you training for any races right now?

Do you get nervous to start adding faster running back in?

Do you “train” for 10k or just run them for fun/as part of your training for a longer distance race?

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28 thoughts on “Race Pace Effort Adjustable Workout

  1. this looks like a great workout! you knw I like these types that engage and challenge! I think I am running a 10k too in april (on the 2nd, didn’t sign up yet). I ran it last year and really liked it because it’s 5 minutes away! lol —– I hope you can do the li half — I didn’t sign up, didn’t decide but am thinking maybe/probably/decididing by next week
    meredith @ Cookie ChRUNicles recently posted…Thinking Out Loud 3.3.16My Profile

  2. I wouldn’t say nervous but I definitely feel unmotivated to add faster running into my routine, yet I think some of that has to do with marathon training in general just starting to feel draining. I think this summer, when I’m not training for anything, I’d like to cut back mileage but increase my speed a couple of times per week with workouts like this just for a total change of pace (lol) :)
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma recently posted…Thinking Out Loud – The 4th ChildMy Profile

  3. Whoa, this looks like a perfect amount of tough. I’ve only recently (in the last year) started picking up the pace during my runs. I find it helps me get through the mental struggle on the treadmill, especially, when my paces are changing. I’m training for a half marathon (March 20) but I haven’t signed up yet because I don’t like jinxing it.
    Suzy recently posted…TurnMy Profile

    • I don’t like signing up too early either! I signed up for a 5k on March 13th and then found out I have a baby shower in Boston that weekend. But I really took a chance because it was a 3 race series, and the last race is in September! So I think I can do the other 2 races, but won’t get the medal for the series.

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