This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
Recently, I wrote about running practice races. This is incredibly important for many reasons. One of the reasons: taking chances.
Wait, what? Aren’t we supposed to be practicing how to do things the right way? Aren’t we supposed to be practicing what we want to do at our goal race? I don’t want to take chances and risk all my hard work!
You’re right. We do want to do those things with practice races. Sometimes, though, we want to try something new. Is there a better way? Am I really capable of more than I’m giving myself credit for? Sometimes, the only way to know is to roll the dice and find out in a race and it’s better to do so in a practice race than a goal race, just in case things don’t work out.
Of course, this is easier to do in a 5K than in a marathon. If you, for example, start a little faster than you are capable of in a 5K, you’ll crash in the last mile and have a rough 1/2 mile or so. If you start a little faster than you are capable of in a marathon, you might have a rough 10K. So you do have to pick and choose your times to take chances but you should give yourself the opportunity at times at least to challenge yourself, take chances, and see what happens.
You might just learn that there is a better way you can then take advantage of in your goal race.