Race your way into shape

“I have been astounded at times by how little training I need once I reach a peak. On occasion I have limited my entire running program to one race a week. I have gone as long as a month on such a schedule and noticed no change in my racing times.” – George Sheehan, Training: More or Less

One option to consider when using a low-mileage approach is to simply race your way into shape. Every weekend, run a race. During the week, run easy.

Racing has a lot of advantages over training alone. You get to run with other people. This can be a huge psychological boon. Whenever you have people watching you run, you tend to run faster. Even by uploading your run data to online services like Strava or Garmin Connect, you will run faster because you know people will be able to see your run.

Another benefit to racing is that it takes the guesswork out of creating workouts. It couldn’t be more simple. Get to the starting line and run. Racing trains your body for the specific stress of running faster over a given distance. Racing also helps you flex your mental muscle by forcing yourself to run fast when you don’t feel like it.

If you are training for a marathon, racing your way into shape is especially helpful because the race course will have aid stations along the way with water and sports drinks. No need to carry anything with you, or plant water bottles along your route, let the race director take care of that for you.

When training for a marathon, include progressively longer races and plug your times into an online marathon race predictor such as runningforfitness.org, to give you and idea of where you are at in your training.