Returning to normal racing

Racing within marathon training

It’s a very different racing year as things begin to grind back to normal (remember normal?!) and for many, the autumn is jam-packed with new or rescheduled marathon racing possibilities. For many of us, our usual race calendar has gone out of the window and we are taking part in events in a different order or cycle than we may be used to. With that in mind, this Training Talk blog is here with some top tips from Martin and Holly to make sure your return to racing within your marathon training goes with a bang.

  1. Racing with three months out is great for benchmarking, as Martin comments, “it’s useful for showing us where we need to go”. Using races with quirky distances such as a five or ten mile race can be great as they lack in pressure by being out of the norm. 
  1. Know how you respond to racing. Do you usually race in a build up? For some, racing a benchmark race such as a Half can be frustrating as they may lose confidence from the result, or wonder how they are going to ever maintain that pace when it comes down to race day for the A race. Make sure that any racing serves as a good confidence builder, and don’t be afraid to duck out of the smaller stuff on the way to your big one. 
  1. “Remember that where you are, isn’t where you’re going to end up”, says Martin. Make sure you are mindful of any comparison you make that might affect your build up such as who finishes ahead of you, or where you were in your last marathon cycle at this point. Neither should make a difference to where you are now. It’s unlikely you’re ready to hit race pace at 12 weeks out from your marathon, and if you did, it may have a negative impact on your eventual performance anyway.
  1. With some uncertainty remaining around racing, dates and restrictions, it’s often just as useful to set up your own race simulation if you’re choosing not to attend an event or if the dates just don’t sit right in your plan. You can use a parkrun event as an opportunity to simulate an event by just carrying on afterwards, or set a course of your own that you run at your race pace, at race time and with your chosen kit and nutrition. Whether it’s a real event or a simulation, you’re likely to learn some important lessons through the mistakes you make.

Most importantly, don’t panic, and good luck.

You’ve got this.

Anji Andrews for Marathon Talk

@AnjiAndrews