Planning your next racing season.

24 11 2009

Here are some great general tips for planning your 2010 training and racing season… courtesy of F4 Coach, Simon Butterworth.


I thought I might give some ideas on planning next years race season.  I am in the early stages of doing the same so it is on my mind.  If you follow any of the F4 plans and do the races  associated with each then planning is rather simple.  Some people however squeeze in a few more races than that, especially the Type A personality triathletes.  The secret in doing more is to prioritize.

Most amateurs cannot expect to PR, or come close to that in more than 3 races a year.  If you try to do more the first one or two will probably go as planned and then things will go downhill, perhaps fast.  To do well in a race as you probably know you need to taper.  This involves at least a week and perhaps two where you reduce the volume of your training but maintain the intensity, you will see this in any F4 training plan. If you do too many races especially ones longer than a 5k, and they are top priority races (A Races), then you are doing a lot of tapering.  And, the week after you are recovering.  This plays havoc with a good training plan.  Add to this the stress on your family and things are not likely to go well all season.  Last but not least there will be a temptation to start training hard right after a race in too busy a season.  An injury is then very much in the cards.

Because of the added time commitment in triathlon, this sport has focused more on this issue than pure running.  When I coach a triathlete I ask them to pick up to 3 A priority races (runners note- especially if the races are short and the season long, you could have a couple more A races).  This does not mean that you cannot do more races but they are not A priority and expectations are dialed down a bit.  B priority races might get a 3 day taper, basically just an extra easy day leading into the race, and a C priority race would have no taper at all.  You still have to deal with the recovery from B and C races but if they are not a max effort (and not too long a race) then recovery should be shorter than an A.

An example of a good plan might be as follows:  Assume a goal of qualifying for a major race such as Boston or NY City Marathons.  The qualifying race would certainly be an A race as would the end goal race.  You could then consider one other A race.  A good distance in this case for the third A would be a 1/2 Marathon. Depending on the timing you could do the Half as a build up to either the end goal or qualifying race.  I would not have an athlete do the half closer than 5 weeks before the full Marathon.  Closer than that does not give enough time to recover from the half, while still getting in valuable final peak training and a taper.  I would not do any race less than 5 weeks out from a major race such as the ones above.  When racing, the risk of injury goes up and it would be very silly to wreck a good race in Boston because of a local 5k.

This advice is certainly generalized.   If you are the kind of person who can run in a race without racing (AKA running hard when your friend and rival passes you) then doing a race close to a big A race should not be a problem.  If you have a Triple A personality then be extra careful.  Have a great 2010!




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