WEEKLY TOPIC – Should you race during training season?
We received this question – “So here is a topic/question I have been thinking about as Spring and Summer start to bloom and I see 5 and 10K promos everywhere.
I am new to running and training for a Marathon in Oct/Nov. I keep seeing all kinds of advertisements/articles/post and emails about upcoming Family Runs, 5ks, 10ks and Half Marathons. Mapmyrun just sent me an email about the upcoming Baltimore 10 Miler on June 14th. Would participating in a local 5K or 10K be detrimental to my Galloway training or just enhance it? Should I just focus on training and wait until next year to try one of these types of runs or incorporate one I like into my current training plan?”
We encourage new runners and walkers to participate in a race or two before their goal race. While our training workouts help prepare you to endure and adjust as needed during your event, only racing truly prepares you for racing. Races have strict time limits for starting and finishing, and they have hundreds or thousands of people cuing up for the bathrooms. Races have slug buses that will pick you up if you are falling behind any of their cut-off times. Races also have crowds cheering you on, volunteers to help with just about anything, and they have t-shirts, medals and post-race parties – many of which are legendary.
By doing a race or two during the season, you learn what your unique pre-race routine and jitters look like. You learn what race pace feels like and you get to test out pacing, fueling, hydrating and post-race habits to see what does and doesn’t work for you. Test races are also the perfect place to make mistakes without putting your “big” race in jeopardy.
Racing also gives you perspective when you are on the course for your goal event. Doing a 5 or 10k race gives you an idea of your time for that distance during your goal race. If your goal race is a 5k, you have an idea of how long it will take you to finish depending on weather and other variables. For those with a longer goal race, doing a 5 or 10k will help you break your race into segments and give you an idea of how long it will take you to finish that segment. For those doing 10 miles and up, breaking a race into segments often makes it much more bearable. I use the word bearable because racing can be tough on the mind and having tools that help calm are invaluable. As I’m sure you’ve heard, racing is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.
During marathons, Liza counts up to 16 miles, and then she counts down. Ten miles, nine miles etc, and at the 10k and 5k marks, she thinks about how much longer she will be on the course and knows that the finish isn’t that far off. Others will break a marathon into two ten milers and a 10k. Half marathoners do a 10 miler and a 5k. Break up your race in whatever manner works best for you, it’s your race.
There are lots of races to choose from and given the time we spend away from our families for training, you can look for races that are at family friendly locations. You should also look to race on a week when we are doing a short workout or doing a magic mile. One last consideration for a race is safety. Many people are intrigued by the obstacle races. I would suggest that you hold off on doing a race of this sort, until after you’ve completed your goal race. People often get hurt on these races and depending on the injury or how close the race is to your goal race, you could lose valuable training time and put your goal race in jeopardy.
See you Saturday,
Liza, Floyd and your PGLs