February 2018 - RUNNING & MULTISPORT
Make 2018 a Year to Remember:
Race Options and Consistency
By Shelly Binsfeld
To register or not, that is the question. This goal or that goal, which one should I do? The options are swirling around. One training group is running the Philly Marathon this year, another one is going for casual 5Ks, you are stuck in between not knowing which to choose.
All the while your heart has been yearning to try a mountain trail race. Indecision can cripple your actions and fill you with regret. Press the pause button and evaluate your options with a new set of criteria. These questions will lead you through your passions, secret wishes, and abilities, hopefully revealing the set of races that will make 2018 a year to remember.
Questions to Formulate a Race Schedule
1) Which do you love – distance or speed? And what race would highlight that love?
2) Which do you need – distance or speed? And what race would help you focus on your need to train in that area of running?
3) What race will encourage you to train at 5am or stay out on the trails after work?
4) Will training for this race or distance prepare you to accomplish your lifetime running goals?
5) Does your coach or experienced training partner agree that your top choice is within reach?
6) What race will be a beneficial stepping stone to another important race that you have already listed?
7) What race would you go out of your way to participate?
8) What race can you give back to the running community through volunteering?
9) Who is a beginner runner that you know and in which race could you participate together?
10) If this was your last chance to race, what event would you participate in?
Take your new list of races and put them in order from most important to least important. Eliminate any race over the 5K distance that overlaps within a month of another more important race.
With your list of races written down, look for an overarching theme. Decide on your 2018 training or racing goal by basing it off the theme. These themes usually entail a specific race time or distance. I would suggest targeting the process versus the outcome, therefore selecting an injury free season over a personal record. Often a consistent injury free training season leads to a finish line time you have never seen before. When selecting a goal that includes a longer distance than you have trained in the past, give yourself extra time to prepare and more accountability. Both are needed in order for you to reach your intended target.
Perhaps, think beyond a performance themed large goal to an impact-oriented themed large goal. How can you give, share, and encourage running to those near and far? Look for opportunities to support other runners in their endeavors. Whether it be one entire season or one run a week, your perspective on running can be renewed and deepened through seeing the impact of running in other people’s lives.
Continue reviewing your list of races in order to identify three small goals that provide the steps of improvement or opportunities needed to achieve the larger goal. Most runners would benefit from improved strength or mobility in order to keep uninjured. Selecting a new yoga, Pilates, or personal training session as one of your small goals can help to support your larger goal. Or, deciding on a 1:1 ratio of participating to volunteering in races will add to your circle of friends, and give you the chance to witness other’s inspiring triumphs. Make these small goals new and intriguing, creating an adventure to embark upon.
Through answering these questions and evaluating your list, you can discover the races to register for and the goals to keep you focused, setting you up for an experience to remember. Put your heart into it each and every day, whether it be through hard work or rest.
How to Prepare
Since consistency is the key to a successful season, what is the key to consistency? Consistency lies in the balance of smart caution and motivation.
When a runner only runs and runs beyond what the body can recuperate from, then it has to stop and take extra time to mend, therefore throwing off the rhythm of training and resting. Consistency will happen when you rest appropriately. If running higher mileage just puts you into a deficit, then run a medium level of mileage, and cross-train using a sport that will strengthen your body in an alternative manner. Resting within your training schedule does not just include “no run days,” but also an appropriate amount of sleeping hours. When training for a half-marathon or marathon, schedule an additional hour of sleep per night. Under-recovered is just as harmful to your body as overtrained.
Consistency also needs motivation; a reason to break through the excuses or tiredness, and put in the work needed to improve. Aligning your actions with your purpose in the sport will help you find motivation. If the reason you run is for the social interaction, prioritize attending group runs. For some, the purpose of running is fitness. If that’s the case, vary your runs which will result in adaption and growing stronger. The positive results will fuel you with more motivation.
Over the years, my training logs are marked by the struggle of balance. This season has been filled with the intention of running three days and Nordic skate skiing the other days of the week. However, either the cold wind has kept my running to the minimum or the warm temps have tempted me to ski all weeklong. Running and skiing together day after day, or only performing one sport all week, wears my body down to the level of exhaustion. My need for rest clobbers my desires and I am hunkered down until I can recuperate.
Seek to balance motivation and rest. When you balance these two elements of training, you will find a symbiotic rhythm. Therefore, training and resting in the right portion. During this winter season, holding back my eagerness and excitement for skiing or running, and allowing them to take turns will help my winter season training be consistent. In the spring, I will need to allow for more recovery runs between intense workouts, as the excitement of the season fuels my motivation – and shades my smart caution.
What combinations have helped you be consistent during the different seasons? Look through your training logs to see where you had a good rhythm going, and tap back into that combination in order to have consistency in your 2018 training!
Shelly Binsfeld (email@example.com) of Elk River, Minn. is a competitive runner, wife, and mother of four children. Her running joy is to guide others through their training as a USATF coach and Pilates instructor.