How to Fit Races into Your Marathon Training Plan – Throwback Thursday

Finally the heat has broken in NYC. After about a week of soupy, humid, 90 degree plus weather, today was one of those spectacular summer days that makes you happy to be alive. And the runners in Prospect Park today were clearly enjoying the respite from the awful running conditions.

New York City in the summer is not for the faint of heart. But throw in the iconic World Major NYC marathon, which is held the first Sunday in November and guess when all those New Yorker runners are training their butts off? Yup, right now and through August, there are so many runners slogging through thick, miserable summer miles that will (hopefully) make the cooler running conditions of the marathon seem easy. Trust me, having done it in 2010 and 2013, it makes me happy that my next goal marathon will take place in the spring.

Now, since this is a Throwback Thursday post, in which I link up with the lovely Brittany (and this week with co-host Allie, who will be lining up for her first NYC marathon this year!), you may be forgiven for thinking I’m going to re-publish my tips on summer running. Instead, I’m sharing something I wrote for my Running Tips series, about how to fit races into your training plan. Don’t miss out on smaller, fun races when you’re ramping up your miles this summer – make them work for you!

How to Fit Races into Your Marathon Training Plan. If you’re training to run a marathon, or any big goal event, it can be tricky to know how to fit shorter races into your running plan. Here are three approaches to incorporating races in your training! | running tips | running |


Signing up for a big goal race and following an official training plan is a sure sign you’ve caught the racing bug. Once you’re in this racing mindset, all those local 5Ks and 10Ks start to look like a fun way to pad out your training for your big event. So, you sign up for a couple, then it dawns on you as you look at your specific training plan, “Um, how do I fit this into what I’m supposed to be running this week?” Never fear, fellow racers, I’m here to give you some options and specific tips on how to fit races into your marathon training plan (or whatever your goal race may be!).

How to Fit Races into Your Marathon Training Plan. If you’re training to run a marathon, or any big goal event, it can be tricky to know how to fit shorter races into your running plan. Here are three approaches to incorporating races in your training! | running tips | running |

There are a few different ways you can approach a race scheduled during your training program. There’s no right way, or wrong way to decide which approach is best for you, but you should decide ahead of time what you want to do so you can adequately prepare for your training races.

THE RACING APPROACH 

If you want to take advantage of the opportunity to race, then you can run a race during training as a fitness/speed test without jeopardizing your goal race result. For this approach, you should ease off for two to three days prior to the race. Make sure your long run is early in the week to give yourself as long as possible to recover. If you have a speed work run scheduled that week, make it easier, with a longer warm up and cool down. Run a couple of miles at tempo instead of doing a planned intervals workout, for example. Do a short shake-out run the day before the race, and take the day after the race off, or do some easy cross training. If you take the racing approach, remember, even with a mini-taper, this is not the event for which you’re training, so give yourself a little leeway with your goal for the race.

How to Fit Races into Your Marathon Training Plan. If you’re training to run a marathon, or any big goal event, it can be tricky to know how to fit shorter races into your running plan. Here are three approaches to incorporating races in your training! | running tips | running |

THE LONG RUN APPROACH 

Let’s say you’ve signed up for a 10K four or five weeks out from your half marathon – at this point in most training plans, your long run is usually 9 or 10 miles. So, turn your 10K (6.2 miles) into a longer run, with an extended warm up. (This is also a great way of familiarizing yourself with part of the course you’re about to run). Take it easy for the 4 mile warm up, running a little slower than your normal long run pace. Time it so you finish the warm up at the last possible moment before you have to line up, so there’s not much of a break between your two running segments. Run the 10K either at your long run pace throughout, or you could start at your long run pace and try to gradually get faster, to get used to running fast when you’re already tired.

The dual benefits of this approach are that you don’t need to adjust your training plan – the race just becomes your long run – and you are also learning how to take it easy at the beginning of a race.

How to Fit Races into Your Marathon Training Plan. If you’re training to run a marathon, or any big goal event, it can be tricky to know how to fit shorter races into your running plan. Here are three approaches to incorporating races in your training! | running tips | running |

THE SPEED WORK APPROACH

Make the race your speed workout for the week. Enjoy the crowd support and adrenaline of a race environment and use it to your speedy advantage! Take your speed workout for the week and modify it for the race. Do a warm up before the race, then you can run the race as intervals, half mile repeats, or if you’re following a very conservative training plan that doesn’t call for much in the way of speed work, run it as a fartlek (that’s Swedish for ‘speed play’ – usually you’re randomly picking points in the distance, speeding up to get there, then backing off until you feel like trying the next speed segment). If you choose this approach to your race during training, be careful to keep the recovery portions of the race/workout as a true recovery, so you’re not inadvertently running the whole race faster than you would if you were racing.

How to Fit Races into Your Marathon Training Plan. If you’re training to run a marathon, or any big goal event, it can be tricky to know how to fit shorter races into your running plan. Here are three approaches to incorporating races in your training! | running tips | running |

Finally, remember that whichever approach you choose, these races during training should be considered training for your goal event, not the be-all and end-all. If you do try to race one and get a disappointing result, don’t feel too bad about it – unless you’re training specifically for an event and tapering adequately, it won’t be indicative of your best racing effort, regardless of how well your program is going and how excellent your fitness level. Always keep your eyes on the real goal race.

Do you incorporate races into your training plans?

What’s the approach that’s worked best for you?


 You can link up for Throwback Thursday too, hosted by Brittany and Allie, by publishing an older post you think deserves fresh eyes! Check out the official link-up guidelines here and grab the badge while you’re at it!

How to Fit Races into Your Marathon Training Plan. If you’re training to run a marathon, or any big goal event, it can be tricky to know how to fit shorter races into your running plan. Here are three approaches to incorporating races in your training! | running tips | running |

Comments

  1. I’m glad you found my blog so I could find yours. As someone who really enjoys racing a lot, this is so beneficial. I feel like everyone can benefit from a few races!
    Hollie recently posted…Some Runs are Just AwfulMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Yay! 🙂 And yes, every race is a good learning experience and if you’re training for a big one, it helps to iron out some kinks ahead of time.

  2. I intentionally scheduled races during my marathon training to help get me through my long runs. I did a 10 mile race the day I had to run 16 miles for the first time and added 3 miles to each end of the race, I ran a 20k the day I had to do 18 miles and ran the extra distance before the race, and I ran a half marathon during my 20 mile long run, adding miles before and after. I wound up only having to do one 14 mile and one 16 mile long runs alone! I preferred getting the extra miles out of the way before the race but it wasn’t always feasible due to early race start times. It did suck having to cross a finish line and then keep running, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I think the biggest benefit of doing this was having a lot of experience doing long runs in a race environment rather than near my home where I could easily pop in to get more water or go to the bathroom and waste 10 minutes avoiding going back outside. I learned the best ways to carry my water and fuel and it forced me to stay running the entire time and not take 10 minute breaks every time I stopped for water/fuel. I would like to do this again the next time I train for a full, but it got to be pretty expensive especially because longer distances cost more money! I used to be so nervous before races. By doing so many, I finally got to a place where I felt excitement rather than nerves before a race, which was another benefit of scheduling races into my training. Great post, Carly!
    Emilie recently posted…{let’s tie the knot} the engagementMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Thanks so much, Emilie! And that was a super smart way to train for the marathon. I did a few races as part of my training for the marathon I ran pre-kids, but the last one I ran in 2013 and having to get to Central Park for an 8am race when you have a toddler just wasn’t feasible. I was already going out for 3 hours or so before everyone was up on a weekend, but tack on 30 mins at least on either side of that to get there and it just didn’t work. And yes, the expense, holy moly! Once I made the horrible mistake of adding up what I’d spent on race entry alone in a year – whoa.

  3. I love your tip graphics!! This is a great post and especially helpful this time of year when a lot of people are planning big races for the fall. Awesome tips as always! Thanks for linking-up!!!!!
    Britt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Throwback Thursday: BlogiversaryMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Thanks my lovely – you know I don’t miss an opportunity to play with graphics and PicMonkey! 😉 Thanks for hosting!

  4. I love how clearly you broke this down for different goals! I tend towards a more conservative approach for racing only a few times a year, but sometimes a great race opportunity pops up during training for a goal race. Definitely pinning this for future reference!
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Wallace Lake Hiking + Life Lately {July 23}My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Thanks so much for pinning, Laura! I think the hardest thing usually for people is when a race they want to do is not even the same length as anything in their training program – hopefully this will give runners ideas of how to make them work anyway! 🙂