What Race Are You Running This Year?
Having a race in mind keeps runners focused and in shape
Every year I decide in advance what races I want to run. The reason for this is simple – the prospect of running any race gives me a goal and keeps me motivated so that I continue to train. Without a race on the horizon I run, but I don’t train.
Races provide motivation in one’s training regime. If you just like to run and want to maintain a certain level of fitness, a race may not be important to you but if you are interested in increasing your fitness, there is nothing like training for a race that will put you on track to do that.
Fitness goals drive more fitness. Think of all the people who make resolutions to lose weight or achieve some level of fitness. These people are usually those who join the local gym in January for their New Year’s Resolution. They swear they’ll go every other day forever so they can become fit. And, by February, they’ve stopped going. The biggest problem with these people is that while their intentions are good, their goals are unsubstantial.
What are Running Goals?
Going to the gym to maintain fitness is not a goal. Running five miles everyday for three months to loose weight before your upcoming wedding is, but it is a one-time short-term goal. How many people have lost weight for a wedding only gained it back after the big day?
Running goals include the following examples:
1. increasing your 5K race time by 10 seconds
2. crossing the finish line of your first marathon
Achieving the Perfect Race
If you do plan on running a race this year you need to make decisions. Which race? When? How long? Where? If you are like me and like to get around there are logistical considerations and additional costs. For more popular races like the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, New York City Marathon, Peach Tree 10K and others, you need to know how to get in…that’s if you can. Don’t plan on running the New York City marathon before knowing you can register for it. It sometimes takes up to three years to get in the race; so planning and persistence is very important.
Pick Your Race Distance
Karen Rossi, one of my best friends in the world, has decided to run her first long distance race. While she is committed to the distance we need to pick some concrete goals. Karen has been running for years and currently can run 5 miles. She’s only run a 5K race but is committed to joining me for the Broad Street 10-miler in May (if we can get in). Karen is unsure she can run this distance, however, but with training, she will gain that confidence.
How Long Until Race Day
It doesn’t matter if you are planning a wedding, party, or training for a race, it is important to plan out the details of how you will get to your big day. In Karen’s case if we start now, will she have enough time to build up her endurance to ten miles?
This is easily achieved, and the running progam I will put her on will allow her to do just that. In fact, I am going to run the exact same program and see how we do. I will not only be her certified coach, but her virtual running partner.
Where Will the Race Be?
Karen lives about an hour from downtown Philadelphia so logistics are pretty easy. She can drive to the race on race day. But there are other factors of where to park, when to arrive, and other considerations. But for now, since the race is local to her, Karen can concentrate on training. I, on the other hand, need to make some arrangements to get to Philly the day before the race!
Training Schedules – How Often Will You Train
Another factor in training for any race is committing to how much and how long you are going to train. In Karen’s case, she will be training for almost 4 months by the time race day comes. I will be having her run four days per week but will allow for three-day weeks if necessary. The reason I can do this is because we have more than enough time to build up Karen’s distance to 10 miles and over.
So we know that Karen will run her 10 miles. I don’t think she’s sure of this yet but as her friend and coach, goals can be more easily met if there is some support. I know Karen can do this and I also know what injuries she is prone to. Therefore my training will be conservative until I think she can handle speed workouts and longer endurance runs. She’ll need to be eating properly too. My role is to merely guide her. The rest is up to Karen, but I will be there to support her all the way. Part of the support is training her mind.
Mind Over Matter
If you have given yourself enough time to train for a race, that’s half the mental battle right there. There is nothing worse than going to a race ill-prepared, either by never have completed the distance you are running, or in the case of a marathon, not haven given yourself enough time to build endurance so that you can eek out those last few miles on race day.
Mental training is even more important than the physcial training. First, you need to believe in yourself and second, you cannot care what other people think. If you set in your mind that you would like to run you 10-miler at a 9-minute pace, then you train for that. On race day, your goal will be to make the time you trained for. It does not become about finishing the race anymore. You know you can because you are concentrating on your time. If you don’t make your time, you don’t make your time. As runners, we will be disappointed but when you think of all the other issues in the world, the Haiti crisis, for example, your race time, while significant to you, is not the most important thing in the world. We need to move on from our bad race days and move on to the next goal.