I don’t like time trials. I only ever use them when I feel like it’s necessary to know someone’s fitness, and I almost always know how fit my athletes are. I would say that 90% of the time I have an athlete do a time trial – there’s almost no change in their prescribed workout paces. If anything, I suppose most time trials for us are used to reinforce where I think athletes are in training.
The most common time I give a time trial is 5-6 weeks back into training after having taken a break, and then again later in training, before an athlete transitions into longer tempo work.
I like the two mile distance because you don’t have to worry too much about recovery, and it’s a far better test of fitness than one mile. Two miles is as long as I’ve given – but I could see the second time trial being up to four miles long, depending on the athlete and the event they are training for
Mid – March I gave Roman a 2 mile time trial. Most of the time I ask for them to run a very conservative first mile. The idea after-all is to simply get a gauge of fitness. Instead of calling them time trials, they should really be called fitness-gauges (for us). I asked Roan to go out at 4:40 pace, which surprised him. His previous two mile time trial was much slower, but you could tell based on workouts just how easy 5:00 mile pace was for him at the time. Since Roman was training for a trail 50k, I knew he wouldn’t have the gears to really cut down, so it was important for him to get out hard-ish.
Every once in a while I look at time trials as a confidence booster. We don’t race very often, so sometimes a short time trial is nice to show them they are indeed fit. I can tell them they’re fit, workouts can be going well, but there’s nothing like a short hard effort to actually SHOW them.
I thought Roman could run 9:15 on a perfect day. Roman went on to run 9:09.