A simulation to last throughout the years
So bring your good times, and your runnin' shoes too
We gonna simulate your run with you
Come on now
Let's all simulate and have a good run
We gonna simulate and have a good run
It's time to run together
It's up to you, what's your pleasure
Everyone around the world
Everyone around the world
Okay, okay, I'll stop. Ever get a song stuck in your head and you can't get it out? Well today I heard Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" and I've been humming it all day. That song was new when I got my license as a teenager. Yes, it was probably even on an 8-track tape. LOL! I can still see me now toolin' around in my Mom's '76 Dodge Colt. Man that must have been some sight. I was either playing Kool & The Gang or John Denver cause they were the only two tapes I had. Don't laugh. So, I had a diverse array of music in my little "play list." It was better than the AM radio in the car. Ha!
Since I had this song stuck in my head, I decided to put it to good use. You probably noticed that I changed a few words. "We gonna simulate and have a good run." Simulation runs are one of the best tools a runner can have in his/her half-marathon or marathon training plan Simulation runs can take two forms. Both are great.
The first type of simulation is a Race Pace Simulation. If your long runs are long and slow, your intervals are ultra speedy, and your tempo runs are close to a 10K pace, when does your body get experience running at race pace? It usually falls somewhere in between all those other paces. Those different workouts will definitely prepare you to handle your race pace for the endurance run, but if you haven't practiced running at that pace or simulated running at race pace, then it may be hard for you to quickly get to your race pace and maintain it consistently on race day.
There are a couple of different ways to do a race pace simulation run. One way would be to take a regularly scheduled tempo run and instead of running the faster tempo pace, run your race pace. So for a 6-mile tempo run, do a one-mile warm-up 4 miles at race pace, then end with a slower one-mile cool-down. Another way to do a race pace simulation run is to take one of your regularly scheduled long runs and do the first half at your normal long run easy slow pace and then do the second half of the run at race pace. Doing the faster portion of the run in the later half is particularly good, because it helps train your body to know how to "pick-it-up" later in the run.
The second type of simulation run is a Race Course Simulation Run. If you live near the actual race course, the best thing to do is skip the simulation and actually run the course or parts of the course for some of your training runs. If you don't live near the race site, no worries, do what you can to simulate the course. Go to the race website and check the race description. Some sites (especially marathons) will give a mile-by-mile description of the course. Then check to see if there is an elevation map. Here you can see the number of uphills and downhills that are in the race as well as their degree of incline and decline. Now you won't be able to replicate the race course entirely, but do what you can to find a route in your area with a similar elevation. Also, if the race is entirely on concrete, it may be a good idea to do a run or two on concrete. If the race has sections of hard-packed dirt, try to find a local route with a similar surface.
Basically, with the race course simulation run, you're tying to expose your body to all the topographical conditions possible. Now if you live in a flat area of the country and your race is in San Francisco, you may be hard-pressed to find a similar route. That's when a treadmill might just be your best friend. You can easily replicate the hills at the particular mileage points on the course while on the treadmill.
The simulation runs (pace or course) don't need to be the entire length of the race. They should, however, be a fairly good distance so your body and mind will be able to benefit from the runs.
So, get out there....simulate and have a good run!