Racing is a skill – practice it

It’s been a while

I was just talking with a runner I coach about racing plans for this year. She’s not into racing frequently, instead picking and choosing races when she will be ready to really get after it. The easy call for her was to target a race this fall, build up to it over the summer and be in real good shape.

However, in talking, we commiserated about neither of us having run a real race in over a year and a half and I immediately thought she needs something else.

I told her to definitely pick out that target race in the fall but also think about finding something in the summer. Know she’s going into it not fully ready to race but practice the act of racing.

Why would I do that to someone who only likes to race when she’s ready for a real good performance? Because she needs practice.

If she doesn’t race this summer in a real, in person racing environment, this fall she will be 2 years removed from that experience. That’s not a good position to be in if you want to race well.

Many of us are in this situation. I haven’t run a real in person race, with competitors around me, since October 2019.

Right now, I’m looking at running a race in June and possibly one or two more in July. I’m going to go in with low expectations. Even if I’m in great shape, I haven’t pushed myself with real competition in far too long. I haven’t navigated traffic at the start. I haven’t gotten in a head to head matchup and had to on the fly decide what tactics would work best. Heck, I’ve even had minimal practice with the race morning routine. Everything from when to wake up, when and what to eat, going through the race day warmup. These are all things I’m going to be rusty on when I first line up to race, as will almost every runner be this year.

As the race calendar opens back up and you start signing up for races again, keep these things in mind. Even if you normally don’t, I’d strongly recommend getting in some races before your big goal this year. You’re going to be rusty. You will benefit from practicing the race day routine at least once or twice. Then, be kind to yourself after your first race or two back. You’re re-learning the skill.

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