Tips for the Peachtree Road Race

So you’re already a pretty good runner, but you want to get a personal best for the upcoming Peachtree Road Race.

With 60,000 people racing and varying levels of athleticism, getting a personal best time in the world’s largest 10k event only comes with correct preparation. If you’ve been following a professional program, this means that technique, endurance and even speed have been worked on from the beginning, though perhaps integrated in a different way. You should have been working towards your fastest run by running up hills with the same effort as you’ll require on race day when you run fast on the flat. If you’ve done training like this, then you are already on the diligent track to enhancing speed. But assuming you haven’t, there are still some things you can do with one month to go.

My philosophy avoids the prevailing wisdom of cramming in heavy speed sessions closer to the race. Running at your max a couple of weeks before the race accumulates fatigue, discourages personal bests and encourages injury. My tips circumvent this last-minute approach and instead focus on recoverable speed sessions, posture correction and a few other ways to gain free speed with only a month to go.

Recoverable speed sessions
Three weeks out, your speed sessions should be limited to only one session a week. They are sessions you can wholly recover from in a week while also not affecting everything else you can do. This means not running 10km, but instead doing reps of 1km at a pace you intend to run on race day. Running fast generates a high amount of effort on flat terrain, which is painful and not conducive to becoming faster three weeks out. So, ensure these sessions are not as hard, and that the intensity doesn’t hurt you. Instead, focus on running as evenly split as possible.

A professional program would have made you work the same load on your legs prior to doing speed reps. Coming to this phase after following a program, would change how fast your body will acclimatize and condition itself to the new, faster pace. For now, it is best to stick with speed sessions that you can easily recover from. On race day, you want to start at the pace that you can finish at, and no faster.

Posture correction
Your running style will determine how quickly you fatigue and how fast you continue to go. Look above the horizon. Spreading the load around the muscles can be done by running straighter, faster and more upright and this is easily enabled when your eyeline is focused slightly above the horizon. This will also prevent you from leaning forward. The better you are at balancing the load around the body, the less tired you will get, ensuring a sustainable pace throughout the race.

Free Speed
Apart from directly impacting your speed with effort, there are a few shortcuts to gain free speed. Firstly, run in a way that reduces the race distance by a couple of hundred yards. This means navigating towards the inner corner each time the course turns, to slice off yards of distance. Secondly, losing approximately three pounds can help you lose 50 seconds of time. The lighter you are and the lighter your shoes are, the faster you will go. Also, if you run the course before race day, the greater familiarity will also help you maneuver through faster.

Finally, bear in mind the several extraneous conditions that will change race day performance. Hydration levels during the Atlanta heat, how familiar you are with the course and fourth of July excitement will all affect how you sustain your pace to achieve a personal best.