Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tune-up Races

As a part of a marathon training plan, many runners will schedule a "tune-up race."  This is a race about two months before the marathon, which is somewhere around the same distance as the runner's longest recent run.  For most, this means that a half marathon will be ideal. 

The purpose of a tune-up run isn't to go out and run your fastest possible half marathon.  To do that would put a lot of stress on the body (possibly causing injury), and in any case wouldn't do much to help prepare for the marathon itself.  Rather, the goal of a tune-up run is to go out and run at your intended marathon pace, using the experience to practice pacing, to gauge fuel needs, and to otherwise prepare. 

Of course, you could also do all of that by by yourself on any given Saturday.  But if you want to do well in a full marathon when you are surrounded by 20,000 competitors, there is at least some value in doing the "tune-up" in a similar environment.

Just how much value?  In my case, I can't imagine that I would get on an airplane - or even drive 100 miles - just to take part in a tune-up race.  But, as luck would have it, the SunTrust Rock 'n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon is scheduled for March 17 -- ten weeks before the Burlington Marathon -- and the starting line, at RFK stadium, is a ten-minute jog from my home.

It is not a cheap race, though.  $95 if I sign up before December 31st, with fees going as high as $145 thereafter.  And in the past, runners have commented that it has been an organizational disaster.  Sure, some of the complaints from runners are trivial.  (For instance, folks who ran the full marathon complaining about the fact that half-marathoners received the same finisher's medal.  Really?)  But on the other hand, when multiple runners noted that there wasn't even enough water to go around at the finish line, it makes you wonder just what you are paying for.

That being said, this will the first year that the Rock 'n Roll Marathon Series is helping to organize the event, and they seem to know what they are doing.  Plus, the race is on St. Patrick's Day, so there should be some good post-race parties.

Is anybody else game? 

Related posts:
Training Plans

1 comment:

  1. Great idea! I've been pondering this since you wrote it but I just don't think i'll be able to swing a trip to DC that close to Kelly's delivery date. Not so much because i'm afraid she'd deliver early as I don't want to leave her alone with two boys in her 8th month of pregnancy.

    I'm going to have to look for something closer to home - so far, the closest race i've found is a 10-miler in Foxboro on 2/19. I'll let you know - we can compare notes and pacing/training plans.