A Tune-Up Race is a shorter race (or in some cases, a race of equal distance) leading up to your goal race. According to Runner’s World, no single workout better prepares us for a goal race than a tune-up race. While we can stimulate the physical demands of racing by running hard intervals or a time trail, that simulation is far removed from the experience of toeing the line.
If you’ve ever raced, you know that there is a lot more to a race than simply running hard. Racing before a big race gives you a chance to practice taper (even if it’s just a mini-one), your pre-race routine and nutrition, race fueling, and pacing. Although you might get a ltitle nervous before a time trial or tempo run, race-day nerves can’t be completely simulated. Tune Up Races also give you a chance to see what you’re made of. They can be huge confidence boosters if they give you do well and great learning experiences if you fall short of expectations.
Regina Joyce, former Olympian and current running coach, recommends the following tune -up race timeline for the marathon: “run a 10k early in your preparation, then a half marathon as far out as you can, maybe five to six weeks, and then after the taper, run a 5k one week to 10 days before the marathon”
Without even realizing it until now, I’m taking Regina’s advice. I’ve scheduled a 10k trail tune-up race for September which is 11 weeks from race day, a half marathon 8 weeks out, and a 5k on Thanksgiving Day which is 10 days before the marathon. The 10k and the 5k fall on Saturday and Thursday, respectively, which means that I can still get in my long run for the weekend. The half marathon will simply be a cut-back week with a very short taper.
The advice I took to heart most from the Runner’s World article is that you should NOT train harder or longer if your tune-up race is dissappointing. If anything, it probably means you needed to rest and recover more. You can take lessons from the race from nutrition or pacing mistakes and work on them, but adding more mileage or speed-work to your routine simply becuase you thought you could run a tune-up race a few minutes faster than you did is not smart. Trust in your plan (assuming you have one – if you didn’t maybe it’s time to get a plan!) and continue training.
The half marathon I’ve decided to run is the half at the Long Beach Marathon. I ran this race in 2011 as a tune-up race for the Surf City Marathon (ultimately I ended up dropping down to the half) and I really enjoyed the race and even scored a 30 second PR. The course is incredibly beautiful, quite flat/fast, and since it’s so close to my hometown of Huntington Beach, I have a place to stay and family to come cheer me on. This year I’ve tried to recruit family members to run the half or the 5k with me (I’ll let you know when they actually sign up as to how successful I’ve been but I’m hopeful my peer-pressure has been annoying enough!). The Long Beach Marathon or Half is one of the three races you must complete consequtively to earn the “Beach Cities Challenge” medal and considering that the other two races in the series (Surf City and OC) are also set on ocean-front property, it’s not a hard decision to register.
The makers of Florastor, a sponsor of the Long Beach Marathon reached out to me with a complimentary entry for any of the Long Beach Marathon events (marathon, half marathon, 5k) for me and a reader. I was not paid or asked to promote Florastor in exchange for the entry. Florastor is an all natural probiotic supplement which helps keep intestinal flora in balance, benefiting intestinal health by facilitating the absorption of nutritions and breaking down undigested carbohydrates. If you’d like to learn more about Florastor, this all natural, vegetarian, gentle, yeast-based priobiotic, visit www.florastor.com.
Free Long Beach Half Marathon Entry Contest
To enter the contest to win a FREE entry to either the half, full or 5k at the Long Beach Marathon, please complete one or both of the following by this Sunday, August 17th. The winner will be announced early next week on my blog so please check back to see if you have won!
1 Entry For Completion of Each (2 entries maximum):
1) Comment on this blog post with your desire to enter to the contest.
2) Follow me on Twitter (FitnessFatale) if you don’t already and tweet/re-tweet the link to this blog post and mention my handle (so I know that you did it!)
May the odds ever be in your favor!
What lessons have you learned during a tune-up race?