It’s January and while motivation and goal making are still in full swing I know it’s really easy to throw some races on the calendar “just because”. I’ve done that plenty of times in the past and have not had fun doing every race I’ve signed up for. This year, because I’m hoping to get pregnant, I’ve had to step back and think a little harder about what has worked for me and how to reserve the right weekends for races. Here’s some tips and the process I’ve come up with for 2013.
Pick Races that Mean Something to You
My husband has been going to Vancouver on his birthday weekend and running a marathon or half marathon every year for the last 6 years. This tradition means a lot to us, so it’s usually the first one to be scheduled into the calendar. It also provides us with some extra motivation to run through the cold, dark Seattle winters.
Map Out a Few Goal Races
Whether you want to hit sub 2 on your half, beat 4 on your full, or improve on your 5k, you should have an idea which race YOU WILL succeed. Work towards your goal, set yourself up for success and don’t just wing it.
Schedule “Training Races”
I find that in order to get a good feel on how I’ll do on the big day a couple of training races need to be put into my schedule. I do best when I can get my confidence pumping or find out if I’m really on track if I do a couple of these per training cycle. I’ll choose small, local, “no big deal” events that have little frills and just a group of people to run against. I think it helps to shake out nerves and it’s always nice on the day of the big race to be able to tell yourself that you did well in a race a month ago, so today should be just as good if not better.
(I can always rely on Club Northwest’s Magnuson series for an inexpensive and fun race)
Think About Make-Up Races (or “just in case” races)
Failure is tough, I felt quite a bit of it last year when I did not BQ on my two marathons. Things can come at you unpredictably, such as really bad weather, injuries, or just “off” days. I wouldn’t say go into a race expecting to fail, because that certainly is not a good method. But when distant from the start of your training, look around the date of your goal race and think to yourself “if something unpredictable happened where could I plug myself in so that my training wasn’t for nothing.” I’m a hope for the best, prepare for the worst type of person.
Leave Room for “Breaks”
I haven’t been running a ton since CIM. And while I have a 10 mile trail race scheduled for Saturday, and a 25k at the end of the month, I’m planning on taking them as “long” runs, not as actual races. The marathon puts a lot of pressure on me, both mentally and physically. The mental stuff can be cured via CrossFit and occasional fun runs, the physical stuff I’ve been going to PT and Athletic Engineering. I gave myself a good break from the marathon until now in order to shake out any of the residual aches, pains and mental demons. It gives me time to get excited to start gearing up for my next training cycle. While I really enjoy racing, I know that in order to continue to enjoy running as a sport, I need to occasionally step away and focus on cross-training. Since falling in love with CrossFit, this makes this period of time enjoyable and rewarding.
You can check out my 2013 schedule here. Because I’m not pregnant yet, but hoping to be soon, I haven’t registered for anything except Hood to Coast past May. if we get happy news soon I’ll either have to be a driver or give up my spot!
Tell me, how do you schedule your year of racing?