When I was in high school, we did most of our runs pretty fast (some runs under 7:00 pace).  We were a pretty low mileage program so all of our runs were quality…and we were also really competitive and pushed the pace all.the.time.

Before races, I always liked to run fast to get my legs ready to run the next day.  We never did more than 20 minutes so we were always pretty rested.  Even if I felt bad, I felt like I should be running fast.  Slow running just resulted in slow racing.

When I went to college my freshman year at North Carolina State (a much higher mileage program), I remember overhearing the coaches saying that you don’t necessarily need to cut back on mileage before a race but rather the intensity.

NC State’s program was much higher mileage than what I was used and my pre-race runs became just as long (or longer!)  as what my “regular” runs in high school used to be.  How did that make sense?  How could I be rested if I was still running far  the day before a race?  Clearly NC State didn’t know what they were talking about (totally kidding – NC State is home to the most reputable coaches in the NCAA, countless all-Americans, and many conference team titles).  When I transferred to Richmond, our pre-race was more similar to my high school pre-race.  We usually just ran the course and threw in a few strides and called it a day.  I was content with that and no longer debated how long / fast pre-race runs should be.

IMG_0505It wasn’t until years later that I started thinking about this again.  Before racing the Sweetheart 8k this year, I did a pre-race much longer than I am used to (35 minutes–seriously that’s a lot considering I usually just do 20) BUT I ran slower than I typically do.  The run felt really nice and for once I wasn’t freaking out about distance or speed or feeling tired the next day.  I left the run feeling happy and relaxed.  The next day at the race, I felt great.  35 minutesdidn’t killed me after all.  I felt like my life changed (yes, I know I am dramatic)  and was looking forward to testing out if this “higher” mileage/slower pace pre-race routine could work for me (before I couldn’t run for awhile, ha).  It was reassuring to know that I could slow it down and still feel good (not sluggish) the next day. I know additional factors go into pre-race tapering but the day before the race is what I always focus on.


Leave a Reply