Runners usually train to run races. Races are a chance to test out how we are doing and see how far we've come. Races are a way for us to challenge ourselves. Today I'd like to talk about racing.

Stephanieruns Fitness

November 25, 2018 Newsletter

Are you ready to race?

Most runners like to train and run so they can participate in races. Races test how we are doing and how far we've come. Remember your first race or run? We race to test our personal limits. To see what's possible and strive to do better. I always come back to the fact that I believe we run to add value to our lives, and I know we aren't all elite runners. We race against ourselves and our own personal bests.  At the end of the day we all still want to have a good race day. So how do we help ensure that happens?

Getting to the start line of your race doesn't start the morning of the race. It starts months before. Ideally you're looking to sign up for a race 3-4 months out to ensure you have time to train for your race. I like to spend New Year's Day  mapping out the races I'll run for the year. This allows me to then build my training plan around my race schedule. How does that saying go? If you fail to plan you plan to fail? In order to truly set yourself up for success you need to start with a plan. Mapping out your year of racing doesn't mean you need to sign up for all those races right away. You can sign up as your budget allows, but it allows you to start planning your training. Planning a longer period of time also gives you more flexibility. You can build in more flexibility around holidays  or vacations. It also allows you can add in periods, between races where you aren't building your base but maintaining it. When you're maintaining your base you can work on other ways to improve your running such as becoming faster and stronger.

If you're planning on running a longer distance race, and by that I mean a half marathon or longer distance it's a good idea to add a race into your training plan. The point of this race isn't to have a personal best, although it could happen. The purpose is to practice your race day routine and race strategy. If you have a time goal for your race, you'll want to practice pacing. Pacing is a skill, it takes time and practice to master. Another thing you want to practice is your fueling strategy. This becomes even more important if your goal race is a marathon. When you're building your mileage and fueling during your training runs you're not running at your race pace. Practicing your fueling while running a race at your race pace can help you gain insight and make adjustments before your goal race.

If you're new to running races, running a race as part of your training plan will also help you get used to race day logistics. You need to pick up your race kit, plan your race outfit based on weather conditions and plan how you will get to the race, parking ect. On race morning I know I have pre-race jitters, adding in the logistics of eating, getting ready and getting to the race can be a lot. Being prepared and going with a friend or family member can really help with that. Running a race before your A race can help you sort out your race day logistics.

Planning out your racing schedule will help you plan your training program and set you up for success. When you get closer to your race day you should sit down and plan a race strategy. This is how you intend to run your race. It's okay to have a couple strategies in mind. That way if you can't execute your plan A strategy you already know what to fall back to. I would also take time to visualize running your race and executing your race strategy. Visualizing is a very powerful tool, don't under estimate it. Putting in the time to plan will help set you up for success. After all we are all looking to have a good race day!

Ask Stephanieruns Fitness

This week @arleneschn asks 'If someone is running a short race, like a 5km, what's a good warm up without getting tired? For instance, it takes me 3/4 mile to warm up at a slow pace....I can't have a warm up like that in a race.'

Thanks for the question Arlene. Ideally you want to complete your warm up before you start racing. Especially when you're running a shorter distance where you can't afford to use any of your race time warming up. I know it's not easy to warm up before a race, especially a big race but in my opinion it's necessary.

You should plan to arrive at the start line with enough time to do your warm up. Start with walking. If you know it takes you longer to warm up take more time with walking. You can then start to build to a slow jog. This is where I would then add in your dynamic stretches. I like to add in leg kicks and swings, hip hinges, arm circles, arm swings, forward bends, ect. After you've added in some dynamic stretches if you don't feel you have warmed up enough add in some more jogging with some strides at faster paces. Warm up until you feel ready to race.

After you are warmed up the trick is to stay warmed up. Keep moving, add in jumping jacks or jumps, or more dynamic stretching. If you're worried about your warm out exhausting you, have a sugary snack right before you start your race. A couple of candies or your usual running fuel. I wouldn't worry too much about your warm up exhausting you. Your warm up should prepare your body to workout but it's not done at the same intensity as your race.

Once you cross that start line you should be prepared to start executing your race strategy. Don't use your race miles to prepare your body to run. Show up early and get in as long of a warm up as you need. Your warm up is key to helping you cross the finish line. Thanks for the question Arlene. I hope that help at your next race!

Is there an ideal number of races to run a year?

Runners know that races are expensive. It seems like they've become even more expensive since I started running almost a decade ago. Which begs the question, is there an ideal number of races to run each year? There isn't a general ideal number for everyone. You need to know your body, how you adapt and what your wallet can afford.

Knowing how expenses races are I'd recommend you pick one or two 'A' races. These are races you really want to run. You know they will be a good experience and you might even want to attempt a personal record. Once you know how much these races cost and when they occur you can plan around them. These races are the core of what you're training for.

Now you can look at local races, fun races and theme races. I'm a big believer in running local races. It helps keep you connected to your local running community and race day logistics are usually much easier. I like using local runs as my 'test' runs throughout my training for my A races. Local runs are also great to volunteer at. So if running one isn't in the cards consider giving back and volunteering.

Fun runs and theme runs help remind us that we run because we love to run. Some of the most fun I've had running has been running theme races. I once ran a Santa 5k race where all that participants were wearing the same Santa suit. Try finding yourself in those pictures! Sometimes these theme and fun races can be very expensive so it's wise to try and sign up for early bird pricing.

With a little bit of planning and research you can build yourself a great racing calendar. There's no ideal number, but you can build the ideal racing schedule for you! Send me a tweet @srunfitness and let me know what races are upcoming on your calendar. 

If you're looking for a strength training plan geared for runners check out my Training Peak's store. Currently all my plans are on sale.

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If you're looking for help with your running and strength training I am available. Send me an e-mail at for more details and to see if I'd be a good fit for your training.


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Oakville Ontario,  L6M 2V5 - Canada

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Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice before starting an exercise program. This newsletter is not medical advice. Medical advice should be sought from a medical professional. Stephanieruns Fitness assumes no liability for any injuries or damages as a result of the above content.