Most Harriers get a buzz out of racing but are unsure how to incorporate a few ‘B’ races into their training block. So how do you balance training and racing?
Typically, your goal race training cycle should be based on the 80:20 rule. This ratio is based on the finding that runners of all abilities and experience levels improve when they divide their weekly training into 80 percent at low intensity and 20 percent at moderate to high intensity. Most club runners achieve this with a structured long run on the weekend, a Tuesday or Wednesday quality workout, and several easy runs in between.
If you run a race at the weekend at near maximal effort, you will need to include this as part of your 20 percent for the following week. To reduce the risk of injury and fatigue, most runners will need to exchange their Tuesday or Wednesday workout for an easy run. This will maintain the 80:20 ratio for the week. You are still welcome to attend the group training session to benefit from the energy of your training partners, but remember your goal is to run slow and easy (80). Later in the week incorporatesome fast leg turnover with pick-ups (such as 8-10 x one minute “on” / one minute “easy”).
If you ran a modest (<10km) ‘B’ race to practice marathon or half marathon pace, then it is likely your effort was less than than it would have been in an interval workout. In this situation,you can still do that Tuesday or Wednesday intensity session. Get into the habit of checking in with yourself and ask: “Did I go as hard in that race as I would have during practice?” If you answered “yes,” then it counts as your intensity workout for the week.
It is also worth noting that ‘B’ races allow you to practice managing pre-race jitters. Learning how to do so effectively is invaluable.
If you are unsure how to adjust your schedule around these races, please check in with one of your coaches.
Seiler, S. “What is the best practice for training intensity and duration distribution in endurance athletes?” Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2010 Sep;5(3):276-91.