Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
A report from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario shows that running fast the week before a race helps you to run faster.
Runners ran three different programs one week before a competition: one group took off, another ran fewer than 20 miles slowly. The last group sprinted 500 meters 5 times on the first day of tapering, 4 times the same distance on the second day, 3 times on the third day, twice on the fourth day, and once on day five. On day six, they rested and day seven, they competed.
Those who did not run the week before the race did not improve. Those who jogged slowly less than half their usual distance improved by 6 percent, while those who sprinted six days of intervals improved by 22 percent. This study confirms the training concept of background and peaking. Early in season, run slowly and try to increase mileage. As the time racing approaches, decrease distance and run faster.