Races in a Training Plan

I feel like this is a topic that is always a good debate amongst runners, and it’s one that’s on my brain right now as well.

This morning, I was thinking about my training and race schedule from last year. I had just started ramping up training for the Twin Cities Marathon, and looked to June and July for a quality race to test my fitness.

My initial plan was to go out and run the Rock N’ Sole Half in Milwaukee in early June, and then wait until mid July to run the River Falls Days 10k and Midnight Madness (a 5 and 10k). That went out the window.

I did run Rock N’ Sole, and it was absolutely dreadful. To date, this is still my worst road Half Marathon time. It also was the third consecutive race (after the Cherry Creek Sneak and Pony Express Marathon) that didn’t go too well. A funk, if you will.

So after Rock N’ Sole, I was a little down on myself. And what’s the natural thing to do for that? Sign up for a race. In I went for the Run to Exile 10k in Des Moines the next weekend. A PR later, and I was feeling good again.

Fast forward two weeks, and I had managed to sign myself up for the Afton 25k (an awesome race if you get the chance). And much like Rock N’ Sole, I wilted away near the end.

But if you’re keeping track (or remember when I ranted about this last year) I had my triple header of RF Days and Midnight Madness the next weekend. And PR’d the 10k…again. Another confidence booster.

And from there I was off to the training cycle. I had exactly two more races from that point. The Gopher to Badger Half, and my high school’s Homecoming 5k. But ultimately, I do attribute those races, especially the two 10ks after long races, to a huge boost of confidence that I was, in fact, in good race shape.

Those 4 races in 5 weekends isn’t too unlike my 6 races/relays in 7 weeks this past spring. But this year, it changed my perspective on things. I’ve become more focused and dialed into what I want from this training cycle more than races.

Currently, I have Gopher to Badger as my only race scheduled between now and Milwaukee. That’s 3.5 months of training with only one competitive race. It’s something I normally don’t do. I like tune up races. But I’m excited to see where this type of training can take me.

And speaking of training, I’ve got my first (of many) interval workouts of this cycle today. 3×1 mile intervals at a “comfortably hard” pace. What does that even mean? And depending on if the forecast is correct, I’ll be doing this in soul-crushing humidity or in a torrential downpour. Neat.

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