How Often Do You Race?

“A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways as they’re capable of understanding.”  — Steve Prefontaine

  • I have running friends that race almost every weekend.
  • My kids’ high school track team will average over two meets per week for a couple of months.
  • Some folks run two marathons per month on the average.

Does all of this sound normal & healthy to you?  I have to say that they all sound crazy to me, but I know better.  Each of these folks have different reasons for doing what they are doing – reasons that make sense for them.

  • The road-runners out there every weekend find great joy in racing.  They love the crowds, the pandemonium, and the adventure of travel that comes with racing.  Frequent races make sense for these runners.
  • The track team is in its first year at my kids’ school, so they are trying to build experience.  The coaches want the kids to learn what track is all about, what racing is all about, and to begin to decide which type of track athlete they will become.  Frequent meets make sense for these kids.
  • The frequent marathoner is one who loves running the distance, loves to travel to new places, and is not in search of a personal record (PR) as much as just an enjoyable experience.  It makes sense to marathon as much as they want as long as they take it relatively easy.

As for me, I am driven for PRs.  I am not just trying to beat my personal records; I am trying to smash them into oblivion.  I want to be so much faster than last time that it makes people wonder what I ate for breakfast.  I am still early in my second running career and I am quite determined to reach my full potential.

With this as my basic philosophy, it is no wonder that I do not race every weekend.  First, it breaks my heart when I don’t PR.  Racing every weekend would not lead to PRs every time or even close to that.  More important is the fact that one race can take away two or three training days – one for rest before the race, one for the race, & one for the recovery run after the race.  While those days may count a little towards training, my training always has its biggest & most important workout of the week on Saturday.  It is the day I have the most time to get it done.  Take out the weekends & I will make very little progress each week.  I might try this approach after I feel that I have reached my full potential, but I am nowhere near that point just yet.

At some point, I would love to tour the country running marathons as frequently as I can.  Experts say that you can run as many as 20 marathons per year without a problem if you only run at 90% of your potential.  If I have the time and money later in life, this sounds like a lot of fun.

For now, I am enjoying chasing down the dream of running as fast as I can.  I know that I will never see a 2:10 marathon, but I want to see if I can get down into the 2:30 region.  I want to beat that PR for the half marathon that I set in 1984.  I am still just over 10 minutes away from that mark.  Maybe by the end of this year?

That means I have to keep the races down to once a month or less.  This year, I plan to run 2 marathons, 2 or 3 half marathons, a few 5Ks, and just one 10K.

Here is what I already have on the schedule from now until the end of 2012:

Apr 1          Knoxville Marathon (Knoxville, TN)
Apr 27        Dogwood Mile  (Knoxville, TN)
May 26       KTC Expo 10K  (Knoxville, TN)
Jul 3           Pilot Fireball Classic 5K  (Knoxville, TN)
Oct  21       Seven Bridges Marathon  (Chattanooga, TN)
Nov 18       Secret City Half Marathon  (Oak Ridge, TN)

Now let’s hear from you!  What is your philosophy of racing?  How often do you race?


“Train hard, race easy, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor



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