Running a PR (Personal Record) takes training, a well-constructed race plan and cooperation from unknown factors, such as the weather. Today we’ll focus on training and pacing strategies for success.

If you want to run faster than you have in the past, you’ll likely need to train smarter, and possibly more. Here are some questions to consider.

Have you maximized your weekly mileage? It’s not about running as much as possible, but finding the right mileage for your goals and schedule. Even a 5% increase from last year’s mileage can make a difference!

Are you including two “quality” sessions weekly? These should include hills, threshold and tempo runs, race-pace runs and intervals. A well-built training plan focuses on specific energy systems in each monthly block or mesocycle.

If you have a four-month training season, here is how it could work:

  • Month 1: Base Building – Easy runs, building mileage on long runs, introduction to hills and Anaerobic Threshold (AT) running.
  • Month 2: Aerobic Endurance – Increasing mileage, add challenging hill workouts & AT runs.
  • Month 3: Anaerobic Endurance – Reach peak mileage, add quality interval sessions and race-pace runs.
  • Taper (last two to three weeks of Month 4): Decrease mileage, but maintain intensity until final week. Key workouts include intervals and race pace.

Is your long run adequate? Experienced marathoners typically peak at 22 to 23 miles for the longest run. Half marathoners should go beyond race distance to roughly 14 to 18 miles (depending on experience and goals).

Do you want to join a training program and find some training partners near your pace for extra motivation? A training group can challenge you and add fun to the season. Many runners also find it easier to get out for cold winter runs if they know others are doing the same.

As race day approaches, you’ll want to fine-tune your race plan. Some helpful tactics include the following:

  • Half marathons are typically best run with even pacing or negative splits (faster in the second half than the first).
  • Most runners in a marathon will experience a “fade” in the final six miles, so the second half may be one to three minutes slower than the first. If the second half is any slower, it’s a sign that you started too fast. Think about your previous races and where you can improve.
  • Practice taking fluid at water stops in shorter races so you can cruise through these congested areas.
  • Look for a shorter race to test your fitness prior to the big event. You can use an online pace calculator to see if you’re on track.

Once race day arrives, enjoy the experience and run with confidence!