Thursday, May 15, 2014

Using Races As Training Runs | To Do or Not To Do

I began my racing career in December 2010.  Within hours of finishing my first race, I was at my laptop looking for all the races I wanted in 2011. I had one criteria.  They had to have a finisher medal.  I wanted bling.  That was my first year.

  • In 2012, I worked to improve my 2011 times (that didn't happen)
  • In 2013, I worked to improve my times and of course, that didn't happen and I was injured for 3 of those 12 months.
  • In 2014, I am still working to improve my times (and achieving my goals) but most importantly my eyes are on BQing for 2016.  

One thing stay consistent in my racing.  I use races for training runs.  What many do not know  (I am really good at hiding it), I suffer from really bad stage fright. A race course is my "stage" and my anxiety levels are going through the roof within hours of any race or any size.  I am surprised no one can see my heart pound through my chest.  This is why I work to keep to myself during a race. I don't get involved in big group functions or meetups, I have to stay focused to calm my nerves and control my anxiety.  It's a skill I have developed while I was on the music touring scene in the 90's.


Early on in my racing career, I knew I needed to race more to get use to the vibe of a race and calm my nerves.  That I did.  I raced a lot in 2011 and in 2012.  No regrets at all.  

If I have a big race coming up, you might find me at a 5k or 10k to work off the nerves. 

I also use races to test out my legs, gear and fueling.  If I am far enough out, I can increase my mileage or workouts.  If I am not far enough out from a race, I can use the other race as a gauge on what to expect.

Are you seeing a pattern?  I use races to help me mentally, not so much physically.  Example, OC Half.  I did not run that all out (even though I PR'd) it was more of a mental race & training run. As I call it, "a good tempo run".

I have very few RACES on my schedule for 2014.  Hollywood Half was one of them.  I raced that and it showed.  I am deciding what will be a RACE for me this year, if any.

Hollywood Half Finish Line - 2014
I am not one to run, to just run.  Each of my training runs have a purpose, and so do race days.  I will not ever be the type of runner who runs a running event every weekend.  After speaking with many who have, I do not feel it is worth it (for me). They have become physically and financially bankrupt. Some lost their jobs because of their quest to run 52 races in 52 weeks.   Too each their own and I support their goals, but that's not my goal and certainly not worth the risk for me. 

The next time you see me at a race, most likely it's a training run to calm my nerves and test out the legs.  As I tell others, my races are often training runs that I get some bling out of it and meet up with some friends.  It's a win-win for me.

You will know when I am racing, but for now - they are training runs and helps me break up my routine.  I love running and I love racing, this serves both purposes.  Every training run and race I
do now is to take me to Boston in 2016.  If I do not BQ in time, at least I know I have given it my all. 

Running races (notice I didn't say racing races) are a part of that plan. 

How do you offset race day anxiety?  I would love to hear your story.




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(c) C. Ragsdale 2010-14
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