A blog by runners. For runners.

Can you stay in race shape year-round?

can-you-stay-in-race-shape-all-year-long

With the New Year often comes new goals and ways to challenge ourselves. New ways to push ourselves and make this year our best one yet.

One challenge we’ve seen making its way around the running community is 15 in ’15 – meaning 15 races in the calendar year 2015. Some people are striving for 15 5Ks or half marathons, while others are aiming for 15 races of varying distances.

On the surface, this seems like a fun goal for a runner (assuming you can find races that fit into your schedule and you have the means to pay the registration fees).

But is it really good on the body to race 15 times in one year?

Well, it depends on your experience level, your body, the race distance, whom you ask, and your goals.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind before you commit to several races:

EXPERIENCE
If you’ve been distance running consistently for years and participate in several races per year, then this challenge may be perfect for you. Fifteen races may sound like a lot, but if you already do local race series and a handful of 5Ks every spring and fall, you may not be too far off of that number. On the flip side, if you’re new to running or racing, this may not be the best goal for you. Fifteen races is more than one race per month. Don’t pressure yourself like that when you’re new to the sport. Instead, choose one or two races to focus on, train properly, and enjoy the experiences.

BODY
Are you injury prone? Do you have a “bad” knee or other nagging injury? If so, the 15 in ’15, or a similar test, may not be a good idea. It’s always wise to follow your body’s lead. If you’re not feeling up to par, don’t take on a challenge that requires you to train year round.

DISTANCE
Fifteen 5Ks in a year – that sounds pretty doable for experienced runners. But 15 marathons? That’s not a wise move for the majority of people. In fact, elite runners only run one or two marathons per year to allow for enough time to recover and adequately train between events. If you want to race all year, choose mostly shorter distance events.

EXPERT OPINONS
Most coaches agree runners need to recover between races and take an off season each year. Think about it – athletes in all other sports have an off season, too. It’s impossible to stay at the top of your game all year long. If you try to, you risk injury and burnout.

GOALS
If you haven’t already guessed, the key to completing a 15 in ’15 or similar race-heavy schedule is this: don’t race every race. Yes, you can still run each race (if you’re healthy). This simply means don’t run as fast as you can and attempt to set personal bests every time. Decide in advance which races will be all out efforts and which ones will be training runs. If you stick with this strategy, you can race all year long.

Anyone out there challenging themselves to 15 in ’15?

Written by Jen Matz.

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