Racing to Train, and Training to Race
Hola, los Factorians de Tenis! Ever look at most local race calendars this time of year? CHOCK FULL of races! You can find a race almost every single weekend without having to drive all that far which is awesome compared to how it used to be a few short decades ago when running was considered odd. Things are different and everyone has a 5k going. It’s awesome to see the running scene exploding onto the masses and everyone catching on. But is all of this racing a good thing…?
It’s a poignant question for sure. Racing is fun, it’s healthy and it gives us all motivation to run Monday-Friday so we can race well Saturday. But there are times when racing can actually undo what we work so hard to do. How many people subscribing to traditional lond distance training take Friday before a Saturday race hard? And even fewer people probably still get their long runs in on Sunday after a hard race day effort. So how much good is a 5k doing you if you are training for New York or Philly ‘thons? Instead of worrying about running a fast 5k AND a great marathon in a few weeks, consider using the 5k or 5 mile races as a time trial rather than an all out race effort. Warm up good and long, run the race faster than you would normally run that distance in your long run, then fuel up (grab your race awards) and then head out for an extended cool down. This way you are getting a benchmark on how you would feel after a faster effort without sacrificing your bodies ability to get in your longer run- that’s multiple birds, but only a single stone!
Today I had to stress this to Dr. Love’s team of high school boys. We had a duel meet, which we have way too many of, which we felt we were definitely going to win. Some of my guys really wanted to “tee it up” as they like to say and go after it. Dr. Love and his Band of Coach-Stars (Coach-Stars is kind of like All-Stars but for coaching) insisted to the team that on a day like today it’s not about going out and killin’ the race we know we can win. As my old friend Rich Airey told me “Save the horses for the big meets bro!” The guys listened and ran hard enough to take the first 5 places in the duel meet, securing the victory, but more importantly saving their bodies the strain and getting better prepared for the late season meets. Sometimes it’s better to, as we say in the historians world, sacrifice the battle to win the war. If your ‘war’ is the NYC Mary-thon, or the Illadelphia Half, or another late season distance race, think about using the local 5k as a more beneficial tool, rather than a way to sacrifice training- many of them are too great to pass up on!
Dr. Love saying- No Neil, you don’t want to burn out, OR fade away!