6 reasons for test races when preparing for a marathon
21. February 2023

If you have a specific goal for your marathon, try to implement one or a few test races as part of your marathon preparations. 

Lots of runners do test races as part of their preparations for a major race such as a marathon.

There are several reasons for that, because test races can have a lot of useful purposes – both related to your physical and mental performance. Test races can give you both specific measures and answers as well as useful knowledge about yourself and how you maximize your performance.

Here we will give you 6 good reasons for implementing test races into your marathon training programme.

6 reasons for doing test races
#1 You find out if your training works

Are you getting the results you are aiming for? If your training plan doesn’t pay off, you have a chance to find out early enough to be able to modify it. You can consider a test race a sort of reality check.

#2 You learn how to plan your race

How fast or slow should you start out in order to reach your target finish time? When and why do you struggle? Whether a test race goes well or not, you gather useful experience for when you have to perform at your best.

#3 Test your “race pace”

If you are aiming for a specific finish time, try to keep your marathon pace for 10, 15 or 21,1 km to see how it feels. The closer you get to race day, the further you will have to be able to keep your race pace without having to struggle to hard for it.

#4 Use a test race as a trial run

Don’t focus on the clock at all, but use a test race to go trough your entire race day procedure from testing your pre-race dinner, energy intake and breakfast routines to race gear, transport to the starting area, etc. This is a MUST for every first-timer!

#5 Keep motivated

Test races keep you motivated to keep up training for a long-term goal. A marathon can seem pretty far away if you don’t put in little teasers to push and motivate yourself.

#6 Overcome your nervousness

It does take a certain level of adrenaline and some butterflies to get you into the right mindset when the gun goes off. However, if you do struggle with nervousness, running a marathon can trigger unexpected reactions. The more you get used to the race situation, the better you will be able to tackle your nervousness and not be surprised by your own reactions.

Use a test race to focuse on your mental preparations or use it to gather experience in planning a race or test your physical form.

Closer to race day, try testing how far you can keep your race pace without struggling.

How often should you test

Depending on your goal and how many months you have allocated for your marathon preparations, you will benefit from one to a few test races.

We recommend implementing at least two test races during your training period in order to test both your physical and your mental form.