Monday, April 27, 2009

What races should you do this year?

Once the month of May comes, the race schedule gets pretty packed with all kinds of road races, triathlons, bike racing and off road events. Already, there has been the Moab Half-Marathon, Salt Lake Marathon, a handful of sprint triathlons and bike races. At this point in the year, the biggest mistake I see people make is doing too many races/events. Not only is this expensive, but it is also very draining mentally and physically, not to mention the stress on the family. Oftentimes, by the time late summer rolls around, I hear many complaints of being tired all the time, a lack of enthusiasm for the next race and/or the most dreaded of all, INJURY! Seriously though, if you want to take all the fun out of training and racing, then racing too often will do the trick. Here are some tips to think about as you decide what you are going to do this year whether it is running, triathlon or both.

  • If you have run a marathon or a half marathon longer than 2 hours, wait 3-4 weeks before doing any other event of any kind.

  • Putting 2 marathons within 8 weeks of each other is not advisable, more info here.

  • 5K’s and 10K’s can be done twice in a month as long as there is good recovery in between.

  • After an Ironman, no events for at least 5-6 weeks and then only a short one that lasts less than 2.5 hours as long as the run portion is no longer than a 10K.

  • A Half Ironman requires about 3-4 weeks with no event.

  • It is okay to do an Olympic distance tri once a month even if you do a sprint during that month as well.

  • In general, try not ever line up event that occur 3 out of 4 weeks or 4 out of 6 weeks or 5 out of 7 weeks.

  • PLAN AHEAD Write the events you are interested in on a calendar in PENCIL. Pick 2 of them that are your most important races (“A” races) and sign up for those (as long as they don’t conflict with above.) Then pick 2 or 3 more “B” races that won’t interfere with your performance at your “A” races. After that, seriously plan on doing only those unless you know for sure that it is far enough removed, short enough, and/or low key enough to be added. However, most of these kinds of races are more easily and cheaply done at home

  • Remember that your racing schedule is your own and not your friend’s, so don’t feel pressured to do something you are not excited about or ready for.

  • Even if you are performing well, stick to your guns! Getting overexcited too soon will have you racing too hard and too often at races that are not your “A” race and therefore don’t matter.

  • It is okay to change plans midstream if the one you have isn’t working. For example, it is okay to switch to a half marathon from a marathon or to a sprint tri from an Olympic if that is what works better for you.

  • Remember that when comparing your schedule to an elite or professional, they are capable of handling a higher workload and quicker recovery times so it is not wise to model your schedule after theirs.

  • Some years you may feel like racing more than others and that is normal and advisable.

Above all else: Remember that you are doing these things for the fun and/or challenge of it. Too much ruins the experience. One excellent race experience is better than 5 mediocre ones. No matter where you are at fitness wise, getting out and doing what you are ready for is what should make you happy. Other peoples' or society's expectations should be disregarded. They are not in your shoes and don’t know what brings you joy or makes you tick. You are still a runner if you do only 5K’s and 10K’s and you are still a triathlete if you do sprint tri’s and not Ironmans. So, as always, pick race and events that will help you to RUN FOR YOUR LIFE AND KEEP ON TRIING !


Nurse Heidi said...

Well put. I've got two halfs under my belt, and looking forward to Ogden full, the Wasatch Back and Hobblecreek half. That's enough for one year! If my hubby had his way, I'd do about half that in a year - the key is balance, right?

Salt Lake Running said...

Yes, balance is the key for sure! And reality is that everyone is a little different even when it comes to racing schedules. Some people just adore the craziness of a big event while other would rather sleep in and run alone. I say that as long someone loves their last event in a season as much as their first, then it is a good balance.

Your events are spread out really well and we all know how fun Wasatch Back can be. So nice to able to run in a "race" with a bunch of sleep deprived friends! Those things make all the training worth it.

Lindsey said...

Loved this post! Makes me excited to race again, and makes me feel ok about resting too!! Thank you!

blonderunner said...

Great post! If only people would listen to this advice more often.