Relay ready: Find your race pace for best results

Relay ready: Find your race pace for best results

With two weeks to go before the Cork City Marathon, personal trainer Laura Dorgan says it’s time to find your running rhythm.

IT’S just over two weeks to marathon day on June 3. By now you and your relay friends should have established a basic training routine. Remember to keep sessions regular — there’s no point trying to cram it all in over the weekends. You need to pace your training and, on the big day, your run.

If you begin at an overambitious pace, you will experience burnout and mental fatigue very quickly. The key is to find a race pace you are comfortable with at the beginning and slowly build it up from there. When you run well inside your limits, each session turns into a more fun and pleasurable experience.

Keeping a manageable pace also allows you more opportunity to improve. While the pace may change from mile to mile, keeping a predictable pace will prevent burning out halfway.


If you’re an experienced road runner you already know how to put the components of your running training together. Although the race itself will be run through the streets of Cork city, the best place to train and prepare for beginners is often on a track as it’s easier to gauge your performance and times.

To effectively run a mile, find a local track, go out jog around it more than once at a steady pace as a warm-up. Then progress to timing yourself as you run a full mile — four laps on a standard track. After learning your pace at the track, progress to the road. Your pace will need to be slower than the track as the road can be uneven and your body will have to adjust. Now, rather than running at an easy pace, which you just practised, push yourself a little further than you typically would and record your time, for that one mile only. Don’t keep running to the point that your lungs can’t keep up.

The recorded time will give you a dependable idea of your best speed. Do this mile run every two to three days depending on your fitness levels for a couple of weeks, trying to beat previous times.

You can utilize this time as a solid benchmark to decide the correct pace that suits you. Clearly, it will be difficult to keep up this best mile pace up for the full five miles so remember your pace must be a bit slower than that.

Hitting the timed mile hard in training consistently will see your pace enhance altogether as your preparation advances.

On your day-by-day runs, strive to keep running around one minute or so slower for every mile than you would in the race. In the event that pushing gets you there in 20 minutes, try to complete at a steadier pace in around 23-25 minutes. At this pace then, your body should feel more comfortable in the wake of being strengthened from your mile-time sessions.

Running at lower intensities also trains your body to use fat more effectively as fuel. Bodies which burn fat have the capacity to spare carbohydrate stores which are limited and crucial for long distance events.

Running with others

Keeping up a pace of only a couple of minutes for every mile may be easier when you’re on your own, however, running with others who are running at different speeds can easily throw your rhythm out of sync.

Clients have told me about races where they were distracted watching everyone around them rather than focusing on themselves. They judged people at the starting line before their races feeling they may be stronger and when they were overtaken during the race, they lost their focus. This can easily happen to inexperienced runners who were competing in their first event. It is all too easy to forget what you’ve learned during training and put yourself under physical stress to exert more pressure on your legs, lungs and heart rate. This is how easily burnout can happen.

Relay ready: Find your race pace for best results

A good guideline is to keep in mind who is still around you from the starting line when you’re about a mile into the race. Tail a runner who seems to be running at your pace so you won’t get carried away in the crowds. This way you’re keeping their pace and storing energy to get through where they need it.

Those who decided to take off after a few minutes at the beginning of the race you’ll probably find yourself passing them out a mile later as they never paced it from the start.

Savour the moment

In the event that you’re running on your own, run alongside somebody running your pace, even if it’s the person you tailed from the start. Their help, alongside that of the crowd, will get you to the end goal. You’ve prepared for quite a long time for this, so why not enjoy it.

Drumming gatherings, street performers, neighbourhood enthusiasm will all help you to travel to the end goal, the finishing line. The feeling at this point as the crowd drives you on with their waving and cheering makes the final hurdle to the end an incredible experience.

If you’re not running as part of a relay in this year’s Cork City Marathon why not go as a supporter and cheer on those running and spread the positive energy by doing your part as a team. It’ll be your team that will bring the feel-good factor and spread positive vibes throughout Cork city’s marathon day.

Cheer and shout phrases like the following:

  • You got this!
  • Keep it going!
  • Almost there!
  • Believe in yourself!
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