This post/episode originally published in January of 2017. The post/show notes are simply copy/pasted from the original post, but the podcast audio is a new take on the same subject.
When should you start training for your next big race?
16 Weeks Out?
The general rule of thumb seems to be that training for a race starts about 16 weeks before the day of the race.
That kind of time frame allows you to build up your mileage gradually (and safely) so you’ll be ready on race day.
The training you do BEFORE you officially start training for your race matters a whole hell of a lot more than many runners seem to realize.
If your goal is simply to make it to the finish line of your race, then 16 weeks is fine.
But if you have a more ambitious goal, you can increase your chances of success by doing some serious training before you start training seriously.
What are You Building Upon?
The reason your pre-training training is so important is that it creates the base upon which you will build your fitness for the race.
I’m pretty sure the #DizRunners get sick of me saying it all the time, but the most important thing you can do to improve as a runner is to solidify your base.
I don’t care what your goals are. I don’t care how fast or slow you are or how far you may or may not run.
If you want to improve, you need to have a solid base because that is what any and all improvements are built upon.
As a coach, obviously, I do everything I can to help my athletes be successful. But when a runner hires me to help him or her prepare for a race that is 16 weeks away and they haven’t done much running in the past few months, what am I supposed to do?
Push hard from the start? Not unless the goal is to get injured before the race.
Spend 8-12 weeks rebuilding a weak base? Maybe, but the odds of them being successful in their race that is now less than two months away aren’t very good.
In this situation, my hands as a coach are pretty much tied. Whatever route I choose to advise the individual to take, odds are against his or her success.
Why? Because of a severe lack of pre-training training.
When Should You Start Training?
I know what you’re thinking right now.
“Diz. For the love of everything holy, when should I start training?”
That’s a fair question.
Here’s my unfair answer: once you start, don’t stop.
Now, I’m not suggesting for a minute that you live your life in a constant state of marathon preparation.
What I am saying, however, is that if you are serious about achieving your running goals you need to be consistently (and intelligently) training year round.
Part of consistent and intelligent training means that there will absolutely be ebbs and flows to your training. And during certain periods, it’s fine to cut back dramatically on the amount of running you’re doing.
Just make the running you’re doing consistent, as that is the best way to maintain your base so that when you’re ready to build your fitness you actually have something to build upon.
I’m Here to Help
How can I help you?
Obviously if you’re looking for a coach, reach out to me and let’s see if we would be a good fit for each other.
But if working with a coach isn’t in the budget, that doesn’t mean I’m not still willing to help.
You can also drop me a note and I’ll be happy to offer some suggestions based on your specific situation.
And if you’re situation requires a bit more than a simple email or two, schedule a consulting call where we can jump on the phone and work through your situation together.
Or join us over in the Facebook group and ask a question there. There are other coaches in the group that may be able to help, plus there may be some opportunities for free coaching aka Ask Me Anything type of live streams coming in the future. #spoileralert
The moral of the story: I’m here to help. Just reach out, and we can figure out the rest of the details later.
When Do You Start Training for a Race?
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