“Why don’t I see you at the weekend races anymore?”
Gone are the days I would pounce on doing races almost every weekend, whether it was a small community-based 5K or a major marathon. Don’t get me wrong, I live for races — I love the atmosphere, the anticipation of gunstart, the adrenaline that sends you across the start line, the healthy competition with other participants, and the second adrenaline rush when you cross the finish line. There’s still nothing quite like it!
But aside from the fact that all those registration fees (affordable as they may be) can quickly add up to an eye-popping total, as I’ve grown as an athlete I’ve learned my body doesn’t take too kindly to this kind of treatment.
I still live for races. I just pick them wisely.
Especially now that I’m tackling longer distances both in running and multisport, it’s time to be wise about racing if I don’t want my body breaking down. I always say I’m in this for life, so it’s in my best interests to stay as healthy and as active as long as possible.
You can’t be race-fit all the time. If you check all training plans for whatever distance, there is a definite progression toward a peak in fitness, during which time you will be able to perform best. After that, there’s a gradual decline for recovery so your body can rebuild.
I plan my season (the time I’m actively training and racing) around one or two events which are considered my A races. Then I plot backwards in the weeks before those events and try to schedule B races as checkpoints to see if my training so far is preparing me properly for the A race. The B races are important for me because there’s only so much you can do in training sessions or race simulations. I find the B races are the best time to practice my physical and mental routines for the A race, and to learn to handle my body and mind’s response to race day stresses.
This is where it’s important that race organizers publish their planned race dates early. For instance, Unilab Active Health posted their 2014 schedule over the weekend, giving runners and triathletes the chance to block off their calendars, maybe save up for registration fees, and really train for those races. The country’s major marathons early in the year like the Cebu City Marathon and Condura Skyway Marathon announced their dates a few months ago. And of course even if Milo Marathon doesn’t announce specific dates for the races, you can always count on the Manila leg to be in July.
For instance, in 2010 I was focused on doing my first full marathon at the 34th Milo Marathon eliminations in July. I ran a 21K race, the Nature Valley Run, a month before it as part of my build to the marathon. When I qualified for the Milo Marathon final in December, I structured the rest of my races in the later part of the year around that, doing 21K at the adidas King of the Road, and 32K at Run United 2.
Of course, I still did the short races and fun runs in between, but ideally shouldn’t have gone all-out. Unfortunately, I can never hold back in a race; I’m just competitive that way. I was just blessed that I never incurred any injury leading into those marathons (I still shake my head amazed at how I managed to walk away from the Men’s Health Urbanathlon unscathed that year.)
So in the last year particularly, I’ve decided not to join a lot of races just to minimize that wear-and-tear.
And then also, my race calendar got even more complicated when I entered triathlon. Let’s talk about my plans for next year. The Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP) has already published the 2014 race schedule for sprint and standard distance races around the country, and of course Ironman 70.3 Philippines and Challenge Philippines have already staked their 2014 dates out. I have both these long-distance triathlons on my schedule and they are both no joke to race. So in the months leading up to each, I will do races (both running and shorter triathlons) that will fit into the training schedule I’ve planned. That means the Laguna Phuket Triathlon in November is part of my build-up to Challenge Philippines, and the Century Tuna 5150 in June is my lead-in to Ironman 70.3 Philippines. I may throw in the Milo Marathon Manila 21K in July for IM70.3PH run mileage depending on the actual date of the race.
I’m supposed to be in the offseason now, but I have Tri United 3 at the end of October, so I’m doing the Avon run to sharpen up my 10K. But then again not all my races at this time of the year are serious. I am, of course, doing the Midnight Run. ;)
You might have a different approach to racing. Tell me about it in the comments section!