Is It Possible To Race Yourself Into Shape?

You don't want to race every weekend, but it is possible to get into ideal shape by racing more often. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Things To Keep In Mind

Sometimes racing yourself into shape can’t be avoided and it might be the best training option you have available. In this case here are three common issues you need to be wary of:

1. You’re Not Going To Hit A PR At Every Race
Given the training load, your current fitness, and your lack of race-specific workouts, you can’t expect to PR often, if at all, when you’re racing yourself into shape. Rather than PR attempts, consider these races as high intensity, fitness-building tempo runs instead. As such, you should expect that running what would normally be a comfortable pace to feel hard, or for your effort to not be adequately reflected in your finishing time.

2. Not Running Well Can Ruin Your Psyche
Along the same lines, it is very important that you not let these bad races impact you mentally. Even when you understand that you’re “training through” a race, it can be difficult to run poorly and get beaten by runners who don’t normally beat you. It’s important to remember the bigger goals ahead and stay mentally strong through the weeks you’re racing yourself into shape. Otherwise, you’ll destroy your confidence and try to over compensate during your other workouts, which can lead to a vicious cycle of frustration and overtraining.

3. Races Are Still Harder Than A Workout
While in your mind you’re using the race as a workout, races are still harder on your body because oftentimes you’re not staying within a certain effort or pace range. Even if you say, “I am just going to do this race as a tempo run,” it almost never works out this way — you’ll almost always run hard when the bib is on your shirt and the competition is there. Be extra cautious when it comes to recovery and overtraining after races you’ve used as workouts. Likewise, you need to be cognizant that you don’t burn yourself out mentally or get stale from racing too much.

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