How Races Can Benefit Your Training

Good morning and Happy Monday! Hope you all had a great weekend.

On Saturday, I ran the Black Cat Road Race in Salem, MA as a Boston Marathon training run. 

4040-500h

I did not run the full 20 mile distance, but cut it to 15.  I’m trying to avoid injury given that Phoenix marathon was only two weeks ago! It was a great local race, and so great to run with my speedy sister and Mark! The race circled the historical town north of Boston, made famous for the 17th century witch trials. I decided to make this my long run for the weekend.

Pre-race with Mark and my sister:IMG_2885IMG_2888

Incorporating races into marathon/other distance training is a good way to maximize your training. Some reasons why:

  • Getting through a long run alongside fellow runners is much more fun than solo!
  • You can explore a new area and change up your typical running route which can be uplifting.
  • Races can be great “dress rehearsals” for your actual race in terms of race attire, fueling, and hydrating. They can allow you to rehearse your pre-race meals and race day routine.
  • In terms of fueling/hydrating, there are so many products to choose from including gels, shot blocks, bars, jelly beans, and drinks like Gatorade/Powerade. As runners connects recommends, it is important to test out these products and determine which ones you like best. Some may sit well in your stomach, whereas other products may make you gag. Waiting to test out the various fueling products on race day may greatly affect your race.
  • Speaking of hydrating, it takes some skill to take in water via a small cup, so more water-station practice before race day the better.
  • Three words: post-race food (note that this may or may not be good depending on a race, but enjoying some food and possible beverages post-race with friends is always a win in my book!)
  • Races are a great way to test your fitness during marathon training. Keep in mind that if you are running a tune-up race, you should adjust your training schedule and include some taper/easy days- otherwise it may not be possible to run a fast race mid-training (even with all of the race day adrenaline). If you do push yourself, remember to give yourself some extra time for recovery before jumping back into marathon training.

Runners connect suggests that you can confidently execute this type of “race long run” every two to three weeks in place of a fast finish or up-tempo long run.  But they caution not to do a fast finish long run (or any hard long run) and a “race long run” back-to-back if you’re not an experienced runner or you run the risk of overtraining.

Start of the Black Cat Race in Salem:

Photo credits: @jazzman0718FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender (1)

Post-race party included a DJ and dancing (can’t say that I’ve seen this before, but it was great!):

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The rest of my weekend involved celebrating my wonderful Dad’s birthday, and also included spending some time with my favorite lab puppy Rio :).  

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Lastly, I was able to gallivant around my favorite city a bit yesterday (and visit with my friend’s adorable baby boy Ollie!). We lucked out on the weather with two back to back 55-60 degree sunny days, and I only hope that it stays this perfect (particularly for marathon Monday!).

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How was your weekend? Any long runs/races/good workouts?

Have you incorporated any races into your marathon training routine? Tune-up races before a race? Do you think they helped with your goal race training?

What are you looking forward to most in this week ahead? Enjoy your Monday!! xo

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37 thoughts on “How Races Can Benefit Your Training”

  1. I love your pictures!! :) Also, I know the guy standing behind you in that first pic at the Black Cat! A bunch of people from my running club ran that, too. I’ve never purposely used races as training, but this summer I’ve got a 6K race the week before a half marathon, so I’m thinking that will be a bit of a practice run.

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  2. That race sounds fun! I liked the tips you gave about using races during marathon training. I’ll run a 15k during my taper for the 50k, but that is it. I invited some Maine IG friends to run my long run with me this past weekend, and it was SO nice to have other people along! I looked in to the Eastern States 20 miler ( I think it is in 2 weeks) but decided to pass, I guess that is also a good lead up race to Boston, and it’s a nice FLAT route, starting in Maine, going to Mass, all along the NH coast. Have a nice week!

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    1. That’s great, what 15k? I am thinking about running Eastern States– why did you decide to pass? Just curious! It is a good Boston marathon training run. It’s awesome you found a group to run with- nothing is better than that!

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      1. The 15k is at Sugarloaf. This will be my third year running it, it’s one of my favorite races! The only reason why I’m not going to do Eastern States is because of timing, too many other things are going on right before and right after!

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  3. I loved Rio, Boston, the pictures, the blog and the fact you’ll be running Boston! It’s my dream to run Boston!!! I’ll be running Tomoka marathon in two weeks, so far I’ve incorporated three half marathons as part of my training. It sure makes training more beneficial and I can relate with all your bullet points. Looking forward to your Boston blog! 😀🏃👍

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    1. Thank you! You will run it one day, no doubt! Great to hear that you’ve also incorporated races int your training schedule. GOOD LUCK with your upcoming marathon, looking forward to hearing how it goes!

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  4. Cute dog – I’ve 2 Labradors – my favourite breed.
    I am incorporating races in my half marathon training. At the moment I am gradually increasing my training distance and trying out all the very steepest hills (not hard here!!)

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  5. All good tips – I’ve just started reading through the Runners Connect material, they have some great guides and articles…just downloaded the marathon training plan for reference. I usually race during a marathon cycle and usually a half anywhere 2-6 weeks before the marathon. 2 weeks is probably a bit too close but last time I did that, I ran my best ever marathon in Chicago last year. This year, my half was last week, and it went ok but marathon is not for another month. Not sure quite what I’ll do for marathon and 50K sequence coming up though…rest between events probably! Dancing, post-race, never seen that and pretty sure I wouldn’t be participating!

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  6. I once used a race as the finish of my long run. I had never run 26 miles before, so I ran 16 before to the race start and then finished 10 more with friends. It was a lot more fun and I kept a better pace. Thanks for the tips!! :-) Great race!

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  7. Races certainly are a great way to “train like you’re going to play”. I admit I have a hard time entering races.
    I love running. It is meditative and spiritual for me and I love being out for hours on end just me and the world.

    That being said I have a very hard time shelling out $25-$40 for a race when I could run the distance myself for free. Maybe I’m cheap or maybe I’m selfish with my meditation. I’m not sure which yet.

    Great pics as always. I’m keeping it under 20 miles for one last week until The Fast ends on Sat night. Next week it’s time to ramp it up again.

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  8. So fun that you got to run the race with Mark and your sister! I’ve heard such good things about that race. I haven’t yet used a race as a training run, but think it would be a fun way to get in the miles of a long run. Rio is so cute! We have a black lab and he’s such a sweet dog.

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    1. That’s great you have a black lab! They are so adorable :) Hope you’re doing ok in this recent snow that’s falling in MA– can’t believe it!! I guess we were due for some type of winter weather given our easy winter so far– but let’s hope spring comes soon!

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  9. The Boston running scene looks fun! I was bummed to miss the Brooklyn Duathlon today because of an injury ink coming my training off a bit. But I did manage to get a 5 mile run in there I’m stoked about.

    Would you recommend any half marathons or 10Ks in the Boston / Mass. area for this Spring and Summer?

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    1. Sorry you’re dealing with an injury, but glad to hear that you were able to get in some miles this weekend. And yes! There are a few good races. The BAA has a 10k in June (reg may have already happened), and then there’s the Falmouth road race (7 miles) in August- both are great races. Providence half is May 1st (not Boston, but close), and there are a lot of other local MA halfs on the north and south shores. Check out half marathon guide.com!

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