Who doesn’t love a good race? The camaraderie of other runners, the chance to challenge yourself against the clock, the swag and everything else that goes with it makes for a great experience. But as with anything in life, too much of a good thing is well, too much!
I’ve noticed a trend over the past few years of runners choosing to race constantly. I think social media and FOMO (fear of missing out) help fuel this. Whatever it is, for many runners, it’s not the right path to follow.
First let me say, however, that if you are simply running events to run events, and not with a big goal time in mind, then keep on keeping on. This article is not for you. But for those with specific race time goals, racing less, rather than more, is the way to go.
Let’s take the example of Runner X, whose big goal is to break the 3:30 barrier in the marathon. He’s come close a few times, running a 3:37 and a 3:39 on two separate occasions. But he loves to race and never turns down the opportunity to sign up. Over the past year, he’s run seven half marathons, four marathons, and a few other shorter events in between. It’s killing him that he can’t get that goal pace.
What’s the issue here? With a perpetual cycle of racing, there’s no time left for solid training toward that goal pace. Runner X is constantly tapering, racing and recovering. There’s no time left for goal paced runs, speed work, and the like.
To chase down a certain goal, you need to train specifically for it. You also need to train consistently. Constantly breaking that training rhythm only keeps you stuck where you are, not allowing for breakthrough performances.
Instead, I’d recommend a happy medium. Get a solid training program going, and then add in one or two key races along the way to your goal race. Use them to gauge how your training is going and to keep some race experience in the mix. But always keep that big picture in focus and resist the urge to constantly race.
See you (or not!) at the races.
For more from Amanda Loudin, visit MissZippy1.com!