Training For Goal Pace

As your local running specialty shop we’re here to help you reach your goals. Sometime that means helping you find a new pair of shoes, sometimes it means offering advice. A future customer asked us for advice on reaching her time goal on a quickly approaching race.


Hi RUNdetroit! My mission is to run faster! I can run 7.5 min miles but only for about two miles. I want to run that pace or close to it for 5 miles, by April 6th. Is this possible? What does it take? Intervals? Track workouts? Beer?! Thanks!



1st off, I recommend red wine for speed training. Save the beer for long runs and recovery.

How far are your long runs currently? Do you have an idea of your 5 mile race pace currently?

I like to work backwards when aiming for a time specific goal. You already have your goal pace so let’s pick it up from there.

If you want to maintain 7:30 for 5 miles I’d start by hitting the track. Running in circles may sound like torture to some, but I think the track is a great place for speed work. It’s a known distance, you can see your finish line and there are no obstacles such as curbs to trip on or red lights to stop for. When you run on the track all you have to do is run.

Hit the track and get in a warm up– whatever feels good to you. Then knock out 2 laps at goal pace, followed by 1 lap of easy. Easy can be a walk if needed. Repeat this with another 2 laps. Keep going in this fashion. Can you get through 5 miles at goal pace if you filter in the easy laps? If so great! If not, don’t worry. Try to finish your work out by backing off on the pace. Keep notes, even if only mental so you can monitor your progress week by week.

Next week, get back to the track. After a warm up, go for 2 laps at pace, 1 easy, Repeat. Next round go for 3 laps, 1 easy, repeat that 3 more time followed by 2x 2laps, 1 easy. Again, you’ve covered your goal distance at goal pace.

The following week see if you can go 2×2 laps, easy, 4x 4 laps, easy. If this is too hard, do your best but drop back to 2 or 3 laps if needed.

I’d continue in this fashion until you can get up to 2 miles (8 laps) at pace followed by 2 easy laps. Go for 3 sets, now you’ve gone farther than your goal distance. You might be tempted to start here in the first place, but I would caution against it.

Then I’d think about upping the speed a bit. Not much, but see what is feels like to drop down to 7:15 pace for 2 laps. Try again. Now go back to goal pace of 7:30 and do 4x 4laps, easy. Goal pace is starting to feel easy right?

This is the basic ideal behind all of my speed work. Pick a pace, get comfortable with it. Break the distance into manageable chunks. Once it’s do-able up the speed a touch. Mentally I find it comforting to know that I can go faster. Come race day you know you have some reserve speed and distance.

Listen to your body through all this, be aware of your form, don’t let it all go to hell but don’t expect it to look pretty either. As you adjust to the work load you’ll smooth out. Come race day, you’ll hit your goal and look great in the finish line photo.

Now go grab that beer and put your legs up!