Roadrunner, roadrunner #1: Plan out your racing season

Welcome to “Roadrunner, roadrunner,” our new series of weekly tips for runners competing in road races of all distances! We will be expanding upon our “Tips for Teens” format by going more in-depth with each post over the next nine weeks. Stay tuned and run your best road races this fall!
 

Tip #1: Plan out your racing season

The first step of a successful fall season is planning out your races! Planning ahead and prioritizing important races will help you to peak for your goal event and hit your racing goals this fall!

Determine your event focus and goals
First, figure out which distance you would like to focus on this season and what you want to achieve. Set a goal that is challenging yet achievable.

Pick your goal race
Choose an event that will be your peak or ‘A-race’ for the season. Research the event ahead of time to ensure that it will be conducive to hitting your goals. Consider the course, competitiveness of the field, typical weather at the event, and the impact of travel. This step goes hand-in-hand with goal setting; if some of these factors are not ideal, adjust your goals and expectations accordingly.

Schedule tune-up races
A tune-up race (or B-race) can help you to prepare for your goal race. It can help you to evaluate your fitness and adjust your goals and race plan leading into your peak event. A tune-up race can also help you to practice dealing with race-day stress and logistics. Think of these events as both a fitness check and a dress rehearsal for your goal race.

Frequency of racing within a season depends on your event focus. Shorter distances (such as the 5k and 10k) can be run more frequently, while longer distances (marathon and half-marathon) require a longer taper beforehand and recovery afterward, and thus should be raced less often. Thus, a runner with a 5k or 10k focus can run multiple tune-up races leading up to a goal event, while a runner focused on the marathon or half marathon should race sparingly and choose shorter distances than their goal race for their tune-up races.

Stick to the plan and don’t over-race!
Racing is fun, but don’t overdo it! Hard racing stresses your body and too much of it increases your risk of injury or burnout. Make sure that every race on your schedule has a purpose and that you aren’t just racing for the sake of racing.

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