Normally I’m a bit erratic when it comes to making a race schedule. In the past, my strategy has been to run ALL THE RACES and not really “plan” out my season. Now that I’m increasing my distance and adding in more physically challenging races, I’ve come to realize I need to be a bit more smart in this area. Linking up with Erika, Patty & Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run.
- Pick a goal race: one for spring season and one for fall season.
- In Florida, there are two “seasons” for racing…spring and fall. We don’t have that many races during the summer because its so hot. When I was planning my race season for 2017, I chose a spring goal race (Gasparilla Amber Challenge) and a fall goal race (the Chicago Marathon). Those two went on the calendar first and I blocked out the dates surrounding them so I would know not to register for anything else during that time. Once you have your goal races set, you can move on to step 2 in planning…
- Check out training plans for your goal races
- Most training plans include “trial” race weekends; Hal Higdon’s plans, which I use and modify a lot, always have a ‘trial’ half marathon, 10k or 5k prior to race day. Once I look at those plans, I add in a race around the corresponding week in the plan to make sure I can practice pacing and nutrition/fueling. It’s also nice to have another race on the schedule- getting a medal for a ‘training run’ is never a bad thing. Which leads me to…
- Use some races as training runs
- If you’re like me and you love to race but hate to train, adding in a few races on alternating weekends as training runs can help keep your training on track and get you motivated for those weekend long runs. For example, during my Gasparilla training, I used the Star Wars 1/2 marathon in place of a planned 13 mile training run and the Best Damn Race 10k/5k challenge in place of a planned 10 mile training run. Using those races in place of training runs helped give me something to look forward to instead of months and months of straight training with no races. One key thing: just make sure not to “race” every race- take some of them easy and use it as a training run instead of trying to PR.
- Know what you can handle
- Some people can handle a heavy training and racing load and others can’t. If you’re one of the people who can race every weekend or do back to back marathons with no injuries, more power to you. But if you’re like me and get injured easily, doing multiple distance races back to back isn’t the smartest thing. When it comes to races 10 miles and over, I try to stick to one per month. This way I have the other three weekends a month to relax (train, but not race) and give my body a break.
- Once you have your goal races in place, plan accordingly to add smaller races
- Once I have my big goal race picked out, I add in other races throughout the year. I signed up for Gasparilla 8 months prior to the race, and from that time on added in different events. Sometimes I even add a local 5 or 10k last minute- like the Shark’s Tooth 10k due to my job needing to be out there. If I have to go for work, might as well run it too, right? Side note: have you ever noticed that you fall into a ‘comfortable’ pace when racing a familiar distance? For instance, during 10k’s, I can usually knock one out between a 1:07-1:09 time with little effort. It’s when I try to go below 1:07 that I feel like I’m “racing” it.
- Be smart about scheduling races after big events
- I deliberately refrained from scheduling anything post-marathon because I knew I wouldn’t want to run for a few weeks afterwards. I also knew I’d need adequate recovery time post-marathon. I want to enjoy my first marathon experience; despite the fact that it’s hard for me not to add in a bunch of races, I haven’t scheduled much of anything post marathon. Waiting and seeing how you feel after a big event is key to avoiding burnout.
- Realize that not every race will be a PR
- I’m really hard on myself when I race- I always want to do well. By realizing that not every race will be a PR and keeping your eyes on the prize (a.k.a. your goal race) you will be much more likely to do well when it matters and to not be disappointed if you have a rough race prior to that. Also, make it fun! I could push myself to do well in more races, but I do events like Disney races because they are a blast! Stopping to take pictures with characters, running with the middle-of-the-pack runners in the sub-30 club at Gasparilla or doing a shenanigans race with a team (like MudRunFun) makes it more of a fun event than a timed one. Not every race will be your best but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a blast when doing them!!
As hard as it is for me to not race, I’m making my best effort this year to not overdo it. It might look like I have a lot on the schedule, but by using some of these events as training runs and keeping the pace slower, I’m able to get the distance in and get a medal all while not pushing myself too hard! It’s all about finding balance!
How often do you race? Do you sometimes use races as training runs?