Guest Post: Tune-up Races

Coach Mike Nawrocki with MDRA’s 2009 Fall Marathon Training Class had some good words to say about tune-up racing for the marathon.

You may be asking, what is a tune-up race?  It is a race you run between now and Labor Day weekend to simulate the race day environment of a marathon.  I recommend some of the bigger races with fast fields, because that will be closest to what you will experience when the marathon comes around.

Why do a tune-up race?
a. Fourteen weeks is a long time to train without racing.  A tune-up race helps break your training up into smaller pieces, so this training process won’t feel like such a grind.

b. Practice race day logistics.  Take it from a savvy veteran like me, who famously (infamously?) ran the first mile and a half of the 2006 TC10 with a safety pin in my sock: race day logistics matter.  I lost over a minute fishing that **&%$# safety pin out of my sock and am still bitter every time I see a safety pin (unfortunate, because they are used at every race, making me one bitter guy).  A tune-up race allows you to practice your eating, bathroom, drinking, and gear preparation routine.
c. Practice pacing and running your own race.  Savvy veterans and eager rookies alike need to practice race-day pacing.  Running a tune-up race is a low-stakes way to find out if you are prone to being unwittingly sucked out to a faster start than you intend.  Better to find this out now than at mile two of the Twin Cities Marathon.
d. Help determine your marathon pace vs. Practice your marathon pace.  Don’t know what your marathon pace should be?  Race a ten miler, 15k, or half-marathon.  Consult me or Marty afterwards and we can put the race in the context of your training to help you come up with a goal pace for October 4.  Already know your goal pace?  Go run a half-marathon at that pace.  See if you can hold it without getting sucked into the dynamic of racing harder.

Buyer Beware
a. Tune-up races may not be for everyone.  If you are recovering from, nursing, or managing an injury, a race could very well be too risky in terms of aggravating this injury.  Remember everyone’s second goal for this class: get to the starting line healthy.

b. Racing is essentially a hard workout.  You should contact me or Marty for guidance on how to train the week before and after any tune-up race.

c. No races after Labor Day.  It breaks my heart to not recommend the MDRA City of Lakes 25k to everyone, because I serve on the MDRA board and have MDRA pride.  But it’s just a tad too close to the marathon.  Talk to Marty or me if you are interested in the City of Lakes race and we can decide together if it is a good idea.  If your competitive streak is such that you are prone to racing hard no matter what, City of Lakes or any post-Labor Day race is just too close to the target marathon, as you may put wear and tear on your legs without enough time to fully recover.

Thanks Mike!

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