How far do you have to run to get to your race?  5 tips to help you decide which training is right for you.

Most race training schedules will have you running up to about 75% of the mileage for the race that you are training for.  So you may be training for a marathon on a 16 or 18 week schedule and your last long run the week before the race or two weeks before would be at about 20 miles.  I asked the question why not run a few miles more than the race?  Wouldn’t it make the race feel easier on race day?  I asked this to my coaches because I was training for a half marathon and thought that it would make sense to set a training schedule that would over run the race so the race would feel easy.  I have done training runs and sometimes when running a 3 mile run the week after 10 it feels easy.  Below are some tips based on my conversations with my coaches. 

1.     Your race plan always depends on what you want to accomplish. It’s important to have a plan before you start. For me it was an easier race so that was why I was considering running a greater distance than the race distance.

2.     If your training requires you to run a longer distance than the race day distance you may tire out your legs before the race.  This is a risk that a coach shared.  An example I was given was “If you trained for a 100 mile race would you want to run more than 100 miles the week before”.  This is from a coach that’s runs ultras.  If you train to run 75% of the distance you can run the remaining 25%.  That 25% distance will be conquered in part through your training and in part through mental strength.  

3.     For a short race, like a 5k, it’s ok to train running more mileage.  This may help you to finish faster.  When running a longer distance it may not work the same.  For longer races you will need your energy so when you train you will need to think about recovery and recovery time. You have to give yourself enough time to recovery in between long runs and especially between your longest run and your race.   

4.     For a 13.1mile race, you can run up to 75% of the race distance and then run 6 or 8 miles for the last long run before the race.  This is the start of the taper down time when you start to rest your legs in preparation for the race.  When running more mileage you run the risk of injury.  This coach’s advice is consistent with many race training plans.  It’s a progressive elaboration to 75% of the race distance then taper down period.    

5.     Professional runners training programs require several miles daily and weekly and sometimes multiple workouts in one day.  They sometimes meet or pass the distance of the race they are training for with one days workout.  They are doing this consistently and their body gets used to it and learns to recover faster.  If you want to train this way you will need to develop a plan that will allow you to have the mileage, frequency and overall lifestyle that will allow your body to adapt to this and not hurt your performance if you add on extra miles before a race.   

Also, take into consideration that there is a direct relationship with your training, food you eat, rest you give yourself, your health and physical capabilities.  When developing a training plan for a race also think about these elements that will help you to improve our performance.  

Keep moving!