I’ve never actually trained for a race before my current cycle.
Yup, you read that right. I’ve never completed a plan for a single race. I’ve never built up to one goal and wanted an actual measurable outcome.
Before building up to this marathon, I mostly train for my “racing season” and attempt to stay at a relative level of fitness and enter races as they come when I have time. Last year when I was building up to what was supposed to be my first marathon, I was following a plan, but when I injured my hip, I obviously focused all my efforts toward healing that, so I didn’t finish a cycle.
My general rule of thumb to maintain racing fitness (not peak fitness) is to have one speed, one tempo and one long run per week. This works for me so that I can have higher or lower mileage weeks while staying injury free (most times). For example, even if I did my long run for the week, if some friends invite me on theirs one Sunday, I still go and run because I have confidence that my relative fitness can handle it.
Having a base level of fitness is how I’ve raced every time before this one.
The difference this time is that I am doing specific work. I have a goal that I am striving towards that deserves pace work and workouts designed to meet that goal. I am running a few races in the build up to help get me some race fitness before the actual day. I am running races with goals other than run the fastest I can, but to prepare me for race day.
I’ve never tapered for a race before. There, I’ll put that one out there.
I’ve run less mileage before a race, but I’ve never actually done anything that is advised for the week before a race. I have never run intervals at my race pace just to keep my legs feeling the speed. I’ve never done so many strides after an easy run to retain my pop and kick. I’ve never thought so much about foam rolling or getting up to not allow blood to pool.
I guess what I’m rambling about is that this is exciting! I’m so close to finishing my first actual race training plan! I’ve gotten so much smarter about my body, about racing and about what makes me the best runner I can be.
Maybe I’ll follow a race plan more often 😉
Do you follow a training plan or go off the cuff?
Which do you prefer? What gives you better results?