It is that time of year again when the running magazines include a special listing of the races that are happening for the rest of the year. It is always very exciting for me to look at all the races and start planning. How do you decide what race to run and what distance?
Since I am usually training for a marathon I like to do races every few weeks as a way to see where my conditioning is leading up to my goal race. The races I choose are usually part of a hard workout so I don’t taper for these “training races.” Most of the races I do while training for a marathon are 10K or longer. When I am incorporating the race in a long distance workout, I may start with 10 miles at a moderate pace then the 10K race at HM (Half Marathon) or MP Marathon Pace).
The most important thing to ask yourself is, “Why am I running this race and what is the purpose?” I feel that racing gives you more experience. For me, doing races helps keep me fresh. Each race gives you the opportunity to practice pre- and post-race routines. If the race is part of your training for a longer future race, it is a good time to try out nutrition products and trying to eat them while running at that pace.
The best way to learn racing skills is to race. For example, I learned the values of “drafting” during races. I never really thought about it until my friend Dan explained that it is always easier to run as a group and even easier when you are following someone when there is a headwind. That’s why you will see groups of racers running together at the same pace during a race. In many races I have run, some of us have talked before or during the race about taking turns leading the pack however, for the most part it seems to just happen. It is an amazing feeling to be working together as a group. If a race has pacers provided I would highly recommend sticking with that pace group especially when you have a headwind. You will save a lot of energy running at the back of the pack. You can always pick up the pace later in the race and leave the group.
Running tangents is another aspect racing that I like to practice. Before I started racing I thought about tangents while teaching math problems to students. I never thought I would need to think about them while running. A few years ago I learned that the shortest distance around the course is how each race is measured. So rather than measuring wide around corners they measure the shortest distance around corners. So if you do not run close to the line that was used to measure the course you will add a lot of distance to your race, especially the marathon. This is just another example of what I tell my kids, “Math is everywhere!”
Sometimes the purpose of doing a race is to just have fun and be with friends. It also might be to try something new like a cross country or trail race. It is good to have these kinds of races planned as a way to keep everything in check. I like to do my fun races with my kids and family.
Always keep learning, improving and having fun!!!!!