Racing in the middle of a training schedule can make or break your race season.
There’s a time to race and there’s a time to run. The line between the two can feel blurred especially when everyone around you seems to be racing and setting new PRs while it’s been months since you’ve raced.
Here are five things to take in account before deciding if you should “race” or “just run” a race in the middle of your training schedule:
1. If you are scheduled to do a long run the weekend of your race and you know you can hold back during a race and not get caught up in race day excitement then go for it. If you can’t hold back and run at your prescribed pace for your long run then skip the race.
2. If you’re bored with your long runs, are having trouble fueling on your own and/or need extra motivation, registering for a race as part of a long run can be the jolt you need to get back into the swing of things.
3. If you haven’t ran a race since your last “big race” and you need to practice getting ready for race day. This can be a great way to rehearse everything from fueling, clothing, and getting up early to actually running at your goal race pace (though running at goal pace should only be done if the race distance is significantly shorter than the distance you are training for and it’s what your schedule calls for).
4. After months of not racing, holding back during long runs and pushing during speedwork you may not have a good idea of where your fitness is and what your goal time should be for your goal race. Racing during your training schedule can be a great way to set a time goal and to assess what things are going well for you and where you can improve.
5. Look at your overall training schedule. If racing a half marathon in the middle of your marathon training schedule leaves you so sore that you miss the following week’s key workouts then don’t race it. On the flip side, if you have a recovery week built in the week after the half marathon or know you recovery quickly from hard race efforts, then go for it.