How to run a ‘training’ race.

I have a 25k trail race on Sunday, then next Saturday I have a 44k trail race.  I’m only 3 weeks post marathon right now, and have my sights set on my 100k race in September.  At this point, the most important thing is that I can get in some good, consistently high mileage (including back to back long runs) in all summer.  I want to be able to go to these races, and have fun, see my friends, run in them, but I don’t want to deal with all the taper and recovery time that comes with longer races.  The solution?  Run them as a training race.

It can be hard for some of us to turn off our competitive nature (I’m totally looking in the mirror on this one!)  I love a good race, and love to chase an AG placement, or other kind of placement stat.  Here are some ideas on how to turn that racing mentality off so that you can get a good supported training run in.

  1. Run with a friend.  It’s much easier to run easy if you’ve got a friend to chat with during the race.  This Sunday, Lori and I plan to run together and to help keep each other honest on our pacing.
  2. Extend the length.  A few years ago I ran the Police Half Marathon here in Calgary as a training run.  I had a 20 miler scheduled that day, so I went and ran 11 km’s as a ‘warm-up’ before the half.  It’s much easier to not race too hard if you go into the run tired!
  3. Seed yourself correctly.  If you’re planning on just running for fun, don’t line up at the tape!  Line up further back, and even if it means some extra walk breaks or traffic jams on single track trail, it’s better than going out too fast.
  4. Make a run-walk strategy.  In road races, you can plan to walk a minute every 10 minutes or so, or in trail races, you can plan to walk all the hills.  Either way, walk breaks are a great way to slow down your average pace and make for an easier run.
  5. Carry a hydration pack, or your own fuel.  To me, a run always feels a little more like a training run when I’m geared up like it is one.  So I try to simulate that in training races.  I will carry my hydration pack, or my fuel belt, and I’ll try to fuel/hydrate from what I have on me for at least part of the race.  I’m not sure if it’s psychological, or the weight from carrying something, but it helps to slow me down and take things less seriously.
  6. Use your tech… how many of us have a fancy GPS watch that we only ever use the Start/Stop button on?  Most of these watches have settings where you can set up a pace alert, or a virtual partner.  Set it up with a minimum pace that you want to run, and slow down when it beeps at you.

How about you?  Do you run races as training runs?  Do you have any other tips for how to keep them easy?


2 thoughts on “How to run a ‘training’ race.

  1. Love this. I’m planning on running an 18-mile training race a month and a half before a marathon. It’s so hard to snap your body out of “race mode” and take it easy but I know it’s needed if I wanna survive the full 26 miles. Thanks for the tips!

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