Is it possible to run too many races?
For some runners, if there is a race they are running it.
I know, because I coach a few of them! (You know who you are. ?)
Surely, running too many races isn’t really a thing, right?
I’m not one for one size fits all advice, you should know that by now, so I’m not about to make some bold proclamation to define how many races is too many.
Every runner is different. And as such, what is the right number for one runner may be too many races for another.
But is there such a thing as running too many races?
Quality v Quantity
What are your goals for the races that you run?
Are you looking to run/race hard? Are you really looking to push your limits and hopefully come home with a well-earned PR?
Or are you less worried about your time? Do you enjoy the excitement and atmosphere that surround most races these days? Are you a bit of a medal whore?
Being crystal clear about whether you are after quality race performances or quantity of race experiences is vital in determining when you cross into “too many races” territory.
Because, point blank, you can’t have both… Or can you?
A Grey Area Emerges
Is it possible to have the best of both worlds?
Can you run all the races, collect all the bling, and still chase a new PR without your body blowing up on you?
Yes. But it requires some serious discipline.
Here’s the deal, if you’re trying to race hard at longer distances too often you are going to have some issues.
Either you’re not going to be able to devote enough time to your training so you’ll struggle to make any progress, or you’ll cut corners with your recovery and likely end up injured at some point.
Neither of these scenarios is ideal.
However, if you can be disciplined enough to enter races but not race them, you might be able to have your proverbial cake and eat it too.
One of my newer clients, before we started working together, asked how I felt about her running A LOT of races over the next 6-8 months.
We talked a bit more and decided that of the dozen or more races she was scheduled for when we started (pretty sure she’s added another couple to the calendar since then!), she really had two races that she wanted to race hard.
The other races? They have essentially become training runs for her.
And that’s the only way to have both quality and quantity in your running schedule.
You have to pick the one or two races that you really want to focus on and train for those races specifically. Everything else on the schedule is just a training run with crowd support, aid stations, and a medal at the end.
Easier Said Than Done
Remember how I said that it takes serious discipline to do both?
If you are competitive at all, and if you’re driven to hit a certain PR time you have to be at least a little bit competitive, then the idea of running easy on race day is a completely foreign concept.
Not pushing your limits on race day, especially when your body feels good, can be a very difficult thing to do.
When people are passing you as the finish line approaches, it can be very tough to stick to the plan and keep the pace comfortable.
Every instinct in your being will be telling you to go! Dig! Pass the person in front of you!
Fight the Urge
This is a training run, not a race, remember?
And as such, you have to be comfortable letting the other runners go and doing what you need to do in order to stay on track for your goal race or races.
Is there such a thing as running too many races?
For some runners, yes. For others, not so much.
But one truth that you would be wise to remember is that racing too many races is absolutely a thing.
Next Week: We will continue this conversation and look at some ways that you can fight the urge to turn a “training run” into a race.
Are You the Kind of Runner to Run All the Races? Or Do You Prefer to Focus on One or Two Races and Really Push Hard on Those Days?
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