Race (non-peak/tune-up)

Test races are over and under-distance races that help you to gauge your form, practice race tactics and gather information about your weaknesses and strengths ahead of your peak race. Long test races should be high-end aerobic running, bordering into anaerobic, not all-out efforts. Test races are sometimes referred to as “tune-up races” because that is what they do: help you fine tune your “engine” ahead of your peak race.


  1. Warm-up thoroughly.
  2. Find out your own pattern of warm-up
  3. Open up and see what you can do without killing yourself
  4. Do adequate cool-down and other after-cares. This is not the final race yet.

Important points: 

  • Attempt to run even pace or negative splits (second half faster).
  • Run strongly and evenly; but make sure you understand the main target race is still yet to come.

Rate of perceived effort: 

7-9 (75-95% VO2max)

Experienced competitors/elites:

Elite competitors and club runners will often be required to deliver slightly faster and stronger performances in the lead-up to their peak race. You have to adapt the training program to your unique situation so in those cases you can race harder but will need to balance out the extra effort with easier workouts on the subsequent days and additional aerobic running to restore body pH to normal.

Elites and club competitors can employ a Japanese technique called “putting on the cap” if they feel that too hard or fast racing seems to be triggering a premature peak. Setting personal bests very early in the coordination phase can be a sign of this. Simply add additional aerobic mileage (such as a 5km cooldown) after your races. This will strengthen your aerobic base and contain your top speed somewhat decreasing the likelihood of hitting your maximal performance peak ahead of your most important race.


  • Fastest aerobic to getting into anaerobic


  • Pacing rhythm

Biggest mistakes:

  • Letting the excitement of the race get to you; starting out too fast and having to slow down.
  • Trying to achieve a PB every time you race.


There is no preferred terrain for this workout as it depends on the race you have selected. Ideally, you will select some test races that are similar in terrain and topography to your target races. On the other hand, running slightly different races such as choosing a trail half-marathon as a preparation for a road marathon can also be beneficial as it may help you work on some of your weaknesses (e.g. strength and flexibility).

Workout descriptions are adapted from BreakThrough Running with permission.

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Director and coach at Borg Coaching Services
Rene Borg is the head coach of Glendalough AC and a passionate runner competing over all distances and terrains.

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