Race-Pace Workouts: Benefits

four runners
flickr photo by Club Atletismo Ardoi http://flickr.com/photos/11447224@N08/24427387956 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Running races is one of the greatest moments in a runner’s life since it allows you to test the improvement of your mental and physical abilities.

In order to have a successful race, you must count on an appropriate training plan, have healthy habits and a health and performance oriented nutrition.

One of the weaknesses that tends to be found in training plans, is the lack of race-pace workouts and that is why we want to tell you its importance.


Race-pace workouts are most often used in marathon training, but they’re beneficial at any distance.

Performance improvements (running faster or more miles, etc) are based on a basic principle: adaptation. Your body adapts to your daily demands, becoming stronger, faster and more efficient.

If you stimulate your body in an appropriate way during your workouts, it will adapt. If you overtrain, you will suffer injuries.

Race-pace workouts are sessions in which you have to run at goal pace (or near it) including short periods of rest.

Race-pace workouts aim to submit your body to demands that are similar to those found in a race, thus making your body try to adapt to them.

This kind of race-pace workout does not need to have the same duration as the race you are taking part in (you do not need to run 13.1 miles at a race pace as you would run in a half marathon), but it must last enough to foster the necessary adaptations.

Apart from the physical aspect, race pace workouts have a fundamental psychological function: they help your brain get used to a race sensations and teaches it how to handle the fatigue.


Even though it depends on your training plan, race pace workouts should not be avoided during the last weeks prior to the race (4/6 weeks before).

The reason is simple: when reaching those weeks in your training plan, you should have a good amount of weekly milage and an excellent physical condition that allows you to handle with the demands posed by this type of training.

For that reason, we recommend that during the last weeks prior to the race (even during your tapering) you perform the highest amount (in an appropriate way) of race pace workouts.

It is important to highlight that race pace workouts are hard and you should not be neither tempted to overdo them (between 1 and 3 times a week tends to be the most effective) nor to try doing them on consecutive days.