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RACE AS TRAINING RUNS, WHY THEY’RE SO IMPORTANT IN A RACE PREPARATION?

September 20, 2016

As runner knows processes of getting to goals can’t be achieved through shortcuts. The countless hours on the roads, trails or tracks all add up to trying to reach a set goal. Planning for this is made easier these days through a plethora of online apps meticulously plotting a course towards a sub 4 hour marathon or a sub 2 hour half. Yet these plans always seem to overlook something that I know I use to aid my preparation for the bigger events that I always circle on the calendar for a coming year.

It’s no secret that my aims revolve around marathons and even further distances. Yet getting there for me wouldn’t be possible without running smaller, shorter events several weeks out from the event. This blog hopefully may answer a few questions based on my experiences as to why running in an event before the big days of the year is more helpful than just another dull boring training weekend.

 

REASON 1: THERE’S NOTHING LIKE RACE PRACTICE

It sounds rather obvious when you think about it and put it into practice. Sure there’s a buzz when you run for long distances by yourself or with others leading into major events. In theory it’s also the cheap alternative when these smaller events given half marathons in Australia can cost anywhere between $A50 and $A75. Yet replicating race pace when all you have is an open road, an open app and perhaps a cheap pair of earphones is a whole lot different to doing it when there are hundreds sharing the same surface at varying speeds.

Of course these smaller events (gee it sounds almost disrespectful saying that) are often run in the same manner (and sometimes better) than your goal event. It can be intimidating to some to use shared toilet facilities, or being confident enough to utilise bag drop. The enthusiasm of those at water stations can often be better motivation than trying to reach a distance because an app says you have to run this far to reach this goal. Finally, if you are a little more advanced and have game plans set for later runs, this is the best way to test them.

 

REASON 2: GET OUT AND EXPLORE

Familiarity and comfort can certainly assist in training, after all running the same paths in order to gauge your progress has been effective for many (I know I’ll be running a 10km course sometime this week that I ran last week to see if I have improved fitness levels for example). Yet there’s always a part of you that has that sense of adventure and running elsewhere, particularly under race conditions, can be liberating. It’s incredible where some runs can take you, I know the second ever race run that I did was in Geelong, not all that far from Melbourne where I was born yet a city that I had very limited exposure to. You may even see parts of cities that you may only ever visit through sheer boredom, yet discover that this area has its own charm!

Of course it does help being based away from major cities that I have to travel in order to use events as training. If you find that where you are residing is about as exciting as staring at mould in the bathtub, then there’s nothing like heading elsewhere for the soul. Plus it also helps with the frequent flyer miles!

 

REASON 3: PASSING THE CHECKPOINT

Every year the City2Surf in Sydney is a goal event for the majority of the 80000 that take part, and with the iconic status and the start and finish precincts there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. For me however this event usually signifies the beginning of the tilt towards another Melbourne Marathon. Other times you may do events such as Brisbane’s Twilight Run in March to kick off the tapering period in anticipation for Canberra’s suite of events. It’s so easy to get carried away in building up the distance in the legs that you forget when events actually are (as opposed to entering events and forgetting to train before realising there’s 3 weeks to go, that’s another story).

REASON 4: EXTRA GOODIES!

I know there are some that enter events motivated by picking up freebies. Some are satisfied with a free feed like they have after Point to Pinnacle where I am once again amongst the entries. Others look for free or discounted vouchers to businesses such as massage parlours. A number of events have merchandise thrown into the price, although as I mentioned last blog entry I’m still confused over why an event would send you a finishers T-Shirt BEFORE you even cross the start line. I know I still have finishers T-Shirts from the Gold Coast that I wear often, and train in Twilight run singlets (and this year’s long sleeved top) which do the job as effectively as an expensive muscle top from a so called big brand name company.

 

Which brings me to the main reason why I’m doing this blog entry, the Bay Twilight Run at Wynnum which kicks off again this Saturday. The fact that it returned to a Saturday run as opposed to a Sunday run last year lured me back. The fact that work commitments prevented me from doing the Sydney Half Marathon last weekend means this so called small event takes on greater significance heading into Melbourne. I anticipate performing better this weekend that I did at the “Brother” event (well if the event spawning from similar runs are known as Sister events then why can’t I use this terminology?) given the relative freshness compared to March when football and training for Ultra Marathon distances didn’t help. Like Perth’s City to Surf I have a goal in mind in terms of time, although this time this will relate to the finish as opposed to the midpoint of the event. Training has been a little sloppy at times, not getting the distances that I want in a single run until the last couple of weeks, but this event will likely be one of a trio of runs beyond 20km that I anticipate doing prior to October 16. Therefore the motivation to do well is there, knowing that I need to hit this distance in order to get close to the sub 4 hour goal in Melbourne that I’m desperate for. Expect a debrief of some description sometime early next week folks, and feel free to remind me if I don’t come up with the goods!

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