Marathon Race Simulation Option #1: 3 hours or 18 miles, whichever comes first, as 50/50. First 50 percent as goal pace PLUS 30 seconds slower per mile, preferably on challenging terrain, then second 50 percent as just faster than goal pace (by 5 to 10 seconds per mile).
Coach Comments: The more basic of the two simulations, this run splits your pacing evenly between the typical long run pace and then your goal pace. This will allow you to cover quite a few miles (up to 9 miles) at your goal pace in a slightly pre-fatigued state, thanks to those early miles. As a result, you’ll really know whether or not your goal pace is attainable or not by virtue of how you perform over the second half.
Marathon Race Simulation Option #2: 3 hours or 18 miles, whichever comes first, as 30/50/20. The first 30 percent as goal pace PLUS 30 seconds slower per mile, 50 percent at goal pace, then last 20 percent as FASTER than goal pace. Warm Up as you would for a regular race, including some 30 second pick ups. Track your splits per mile for post-run analysis.
Coach Comments: In this advanced version, the goal is to replicate the true demands of those last 6 miles on race day, when running even your pedestrian goal pace seems so incredibly hard. We do this by shortening the "easy" miles at the beginning and ask you to try and run the last 20 percent (or 3.5 miles) at faster than your goal pace. If you can hit all the pacing goals on this workout
There Is No Silver Bullet
While I am confident the Marathon Nation training approach and these Race Simulation workouts will get you closer to your goal finish time, there is no guarantee. There are a million and one things that can happen between now and race day to interfere with your lofty goals, but if you can follow the guidance listed above at least you’ll know that fitness and experience are on your side. The rest is up to you to make it happen.
Race Simulation Checklist
Aside from the actual workout itself, one of the most valuable components of the race simulation experience is getting all of your gear and equipment tested. It’s one thing to have new stuff, it’s quite another thing to try and put it all together! Here’s a list of things you’ll want to have ready for your next race simulation.
- Hat / Visor
- Hydration System
- Fuel (gels or sports drink)
- Pit stop options
Marathon race day is special for many reasons. It represents the culmination of months of training and sacrifice. It’s a celebration of the fit lifestyle that you share with thousands of other runners. And it’s a day full of possibilities: Will I set a PR? Will I get those dreaded cramps? How will the weather play out? Tensions are high and adrenaline has you ready to go long before the starting gun goes off.
Hopefully the tips outlined above will help you take that old school "long run" mentality and transform at least one of them into an examination of your race day readiness. Life is full of surprises, but race day doesn’t have to be.