Well, it’s that time of year again…..time to set your goals for the upcoming race season. But what can you do to ensure you have a fun, healthy and affordable season while reaching those goals? Here are a few tips that will help you with the process:
SET A BUDGET
Race fees can be expensive. You also have to remember that you could be paying for hotels, food and possibly bike transport depending on your schedule. Make sure you sit down and figure out how much money you want to spend throughout the season. The only thing you want to worry about is achieving your goals, not weather you’ll have enough money to get home after crossing the finish line!
PICK YOUR MAJOR RACE(S)
Each season, you should pick a major race or the races you want to perform your best. Whether it is doing a long distance race, like an Ironman, for the first time or trying to qualify for nationals at an Olympic, you should circle at least one race on your calendar. That way you can plan your training and racing season around your major goal.
GET A TRAINING PLAN
Once you circle your major race, you should find a training plan aimed specifically at your goal. If your goal is to go a longer distance, there are several free or very affordable plans you can find online. Find one that meets your needs and training schedule. Sit down with the plan and really adjust it to fit you. For example, if the off day is Saturday and you prefer Friday, you can make that adjustment across the board. If your goal is a PR or a qualifying time, it might be a good idea to get a personal coach that will dictate exactly what you should do based on past performances, personal ability and current training habits. Once you find a plan, put it where you can see it. If that run you don’t want to do is staring at you on the refrigerator, you’re much more likely to get it in than if it’s tucked away safely in your email.
PICK YOUR “SMALLER” RACES
Your entire race season doesn’t have to revolve around just one or two races. “Smaller” races are good for many purposes….they give you an opportunity to enjoy a race regardless of outcome, you might want to run a race with a friend and enjoy the scenery, or you might be supporting someone reach the finish line. Also, “smaller” races give you that adrenaline rush that you will experience when you toe the line at your major race. A 13.1 training run is great, but you won’t be able to recreate the energy you get when you race the DC RnR Half Marathon. However, when racing these “smaller “ races you need to make sure you…..
DECIDE WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO RACE OR TRAIN THROUGH EVENTS
Some events fit nicely into your major training plan. If you have to do a long run or bike, a half marathon or a century ride will fit quite nicely. But you need to be mindful of your major goals. If you are racing every weekend for two months before your major race, you are not giving your body time to recover. Training plans are very thoughtful and going 100% every weekend will tear your body down further than you want. Decide whether you are going to “race” smaller races or just train through them.
DON’T OVER EXTEND YOURSELF
Racing is fun and addicting. However, if you are training hard and racing hard, your body will eventually need a break. If you overextend yourself physically or mentally, it will be hard for your body to force its way through training. Make sure you are fresh for your major races. That might include taking a day or even a race off to make sure you will still have the mental and physical capacity for your major goals.
MAKE SURE THERE IS RECOVERY/TAPER TIME
When you are getting close to race day, you feel great! But then the plan has you going shorter distances or at a slower pace. Not fun, right? However, you need to know that this is part of the plan. If you have worked yourself up to running 20 miles and then your plan asks you to run 14, don’t over extend yourself. These plans stretch you and then give you recovery time. Your body needs this to reach its full potential. The same thing goes with your taper. You will feel like an aerobic god in the weeks leading up to a major race. But don’t try to expend all that energy. You’ll need it for your big race. Trust the taper!
SET GOALS, WORK TOWARD THEM AND HAVE FUN!
Set goals for yourself. Make sure they are reasonable, attainable, yet challenging. Write them down so it will keep you honest about accomplishing them. You can do it! Work hard to reach those goals and when you do, you will feel all the better for it. And remember, no matter what happens on race day, you are doing something the majority of the population won’t ever experience. If you fall a few minutes short of your 70.3 goal time, who cares……you just went 70.3!!! Don’t be disappointed in any accomplishment.
Planning your race season, setting goals, working towards those goals and accomplishing them should be an enjoyable process from start to finish. If you follow these steps, you should have a smile on your face all season long. And, above all, enjoy the process and have fun! That’s why we do this, isn’t it?