Derby Marathon prep: How to add pacing to your running routine

As they say, slow and steady wins the race! Here’s how to do it.

Many say it is the key to a successful race, but pacing also is essential to a successful training program.

Pacing helps to maximize your run so that you are able to perform at your best. Pacing also can help your body recover from quick bursts of speed or long mileage. Understanding pacing will make you a more effective runner so that you have the stamina to reach the finish line.

Ready to join the Norton Sports Health team?

Join the Kentucky Derby Festival marathon training group — connect with other participants and get support from athletic and sports health professionals. Sign up for text alerts to receive messages about any changes in training times and locations. The Norton Sports Health training program prepares you for the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and Marathon on Saturday, April 28.

*Before beginning any training program, consult with your health provider to ensure you are healthy enough to properly train and complete the program.

The Norton Sports Health’s Kentucky Derby Marathon training program builds on mileage throughout the training program, so it is important to stick to the planned schedule so you don’t burn out before the big race.

During our training program, running pace will range from 50 to 80 percent effort. We leave the 100 percent effort for race day!

Long runs: Your Saturday runs are usually your longest of the week and should be completed at a pace that is about 50 to 60 percent of your maximum effort. To test if you have the right pace, try singing a song aloud or having a conversation with a running buddy. If you are out of breath when speaking, you may be running too fast.

Mid-week runs: Feeling the need for speed? Your mid-week runs are the optimal time to incorporate speed work into your training. Safety tip: Don’t start your run at this pace. Instead, get a good warm-up mile in and then increase your pace to 70 to 80 percent effort. To judge what this pace should feel like, talking should be very difficult.

Speed work should consist of short bursts — no longer than 3 to 8 minutes. Include some recovery time between intervals to allow yourself to regain your breath before you start again. Don’t forget to cool down with a light jog or brisk walk.

Race day: Your race day pace should be divided into three pace settings. Miles 1 to 7 should be run in your “happy zone.” You should be pushing the pace but still be able to carry a conversation. Miles 8 to 12 are your “speed zone.” Kick the tempo up so that you are running at about 75 percent effort. The final 1.1 mile is your “fire zone” and should be maximum effort. Don’t leave anything in the tank!

A solid pace plan will help you run a strong race.


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