Racing for training
Racing for Training
Training allows you to focus your attention on specifics in a much more controlled and relaxed environment, which certainly has many benefits. But nothing can prepare you for racing quite like racing itself.
Racing is by far the best way to condition yourself for racing – however, you can’t race all the time. Regular racers need to race smart to ensure they can achieve their goals and continue to improve without being overcome by the stresses of racing too much.
Racing hard challenges your physical and mental limits. Regularly pushing yourself in the more pressured environment of racing allows you to become more familiar with the situation, and become more equipped to respond better during future races thanks to the experience.
Pacing is something you can practice over and over and over again in training, but race day is always different. The adrenaline and nerves always challenge your levels of restraint and often people will start their race too fast. By racing regularly you will be become more familiar with judging your pace, even when amped up and ready to go.
Nutrition and hydration are extremely important and greatly affect performance in longer events. Again, you can practice your strategies in training, but only race practice can give you a true feel for how you will respond to taking on fluid and nutrition in stressful conditions.
Whilst there are many benefits to racing and using racing as training, it also requires much more down time post-event to properly recover and recharge. Ideally, you should race regularly – the frequency will be different for everyone and dependent on the season, but should always ensure you take adequate time to recover, otherwise you risk physical and/or mental fatigue, and increased chance of injury.
A good strategy is to target only a handful of goal races during each season. Other events should be seen as training races and be treated as such, with less focus on results and more attention on the process of getting things done and working towards your next goal event. parkrun and Brisbane Road Runners are great local examples of regular events where you can get race practice – with proper timing and racing conditions, but without the same focus on performance outcomes.
Take a look at your racing calendar. Don’t be afraid to throw in a couple more relaxed races to ensure you’re ready for your next goal.
Keen to learn more about running injuries? Check out our monthly ‘From the Sole‘ newsletter, written by intraining Running Injury Clinic podiatrists, physiotherapist and dietitian.