Monday, April 11, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #15 Train Race Specific

There are a million training guides out there for running.  I have read many of them but in the end I always come back to what works for me.  That is usually some combination of the strategies of others along with my own version of certain ideas.  The overall concept for me when I train for a race, I tailor my training and conditioning to the specific event and the goal I have set for it. Every race is different and I don’t believe there should be one set method of training for a race just because it’s a certain distance. Is every marathon course the same? Is every hundred miler the same, aside from the suffering they bring? Absolutely not. Surfaces, elevation, aid stations, average temperatures and goals vary at each event. My strategy is to train for each race and all that it entails, not just the distance.
  1. If I want to run 8 minute miles or 10 minute miles on race day, then I run them during my long training runs. This is contrary to what the experts say in the reading I have done, often suggesting long runs should be at certain percentages of goal pace. This has never made sense to me. If I don’t do it in training, how am I supposed to do it on race day? This also gives me confidence, knowing I have achieved goal pace during training.
  2. If the race is hilly, I run lots of hills to prepare. Once a week I do hill repeats and I make sure my long runs take the route that is full of climbs and descents.
  3. If a course is flat, perhaps focus on speed work and tempo, although I do believe hills make you faster regardless (check out the results on this previous post Do Hills Make You Faster?).
  4. One of the most important aspects for me is to eat and drink the way I plan in my race race. I am fairly religious about this and even take water on short runs. I also pack a cooler and use my car as an aid station on long runs. Your body needs to get use to processing liquids and calories while running.  I am confident my focus on this has paid off as I have yet to experience any nutrition rejection druing a race (never puked that is, knock on wood).  I am also very comfortable carrying my bottles at this point, and even include exercises geared towards building arm strength/endurance so the 20oz bottles don’t feel like 20lb dumbbells after 20 hrs of running.  Lastly by doing during training you will save time at aid stations by knowing exactly what you are going to have.  Sometimes there are so many choices you can get overwhelmed and waste time deciding.  Not to mention if you try something new on race day your stomach may fight back.
  5. Train in your race day gear. This is one tip I that certainly goes for all races in my book.  Do not choose to break in a brand new pair of shoes or a special new outfit on race day. That is a recipe for a blister and chaffing nightmare. Race in your favorites.
  6. If it’s 10 degrees and snowing, 40 degrees and raining or 90 degrees with no relief, train outside. You need to be ready for the typical conditions at your event but come race day, you never know what you're going to get. It’s good to know what it’s like under any possible condition.
  7. Study the course you are running and if its local run some of it (if not try to find similar local terrain to train on). Know when the steep climbs are so you can prepare. Plan when you will speed up or slow down, run or walk. Determine how long it will take you reach each aid station and what will be available when you get there. Decide what you need to carry with you and what you need to pick up at each station.  Are drop bags permitted? I know things can change during the course of a race but having a plan is important.
I am certain there are others I am missing so please share your thoughts. Oh an don’t forget to have fun when you are training:) Peace


  1. Once again another great set of tips. Thanks Eric

  2. Those are some great tips...I like the one about knowing what you want at the aid station....and running race pace for portion of long runs. Thanks Eric!


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