Race modelling is the simulation of a race plan at actual racing speeds.
One of the areas we focus on during the competition phase of our training plan is “race modelling”. Our emphasis is on the 400m and the 800m and getting the pace correct and understanding how to run these races for the individual athlete is critical.
I personally believe if the athlete is fully prepared and all training has gone to plan, personal best times will come down to only 2 things. Mental preparation and race modelling.
You can eliminate a lot of the pre race anxiety for the 400 and 800m if the athlete has simulated the race many times at training. For us this consists of performing many of our repeat runs over 145m, 200m, 300m, and 400m from the actual 400m or 800m race start line. Many athletes and coaches will start their training runs from different starting positions around the track but not the actual 400m or 800m race start line.
We do a lot of our race modelling work from the actual start position and the athletes will run to a specific mark on the track and try to hit the assigned target time that they would be running during an actual race.
e.g: 400m race modelling. 3 x 145m from 400m start at the athletes target 400m race pace.
I get the athletes to do this individually so they can not use someone else to pace off. For 400m race modelling we may do a 100m, 120m and 145m all at 400m set race pace. The same would apply to the 800m. I believe this gives the athlete huge confidence to get their pacing right and not worry about what other people are doing on race day. We’ve all experienced the athlete that goes out to hard and we chase him only to blow up and hit a wall or we go out to slowly and sit with the rest of the field not using our speed when this may be our biggest strength.
One of the things we practice on race day is to go through our normal warm up process then do a final couple of runs with a stop watch to a specific mark on the track to get what the race pace right. We call this “dialling in race speed”.
There is no absolute science to this and you can play around with different distances at training like running the back straight as relaxed as possible to a set time which may be equivalent to your target 400/800m time. One of the things I like to do is to fatigue the athlete first by doing 145m’s or 200m’s (not to fast) or other distances, then get them to do a rolling start from the 200m mark to simulate the back 200m of a 400m. This teaches good posture and mechanics under stress.
I encourage you to play around with your own race modelling at training and practice “dialling in your race speed” it will do wonders for your confidence on race day.