On Racing

There is a predictable format to my training. Each cycle consists of four key sessions:

  1. Long run
  2. Medium run
  3. Intense
  4. Speed

With the rest being either aerobic conditioning or recovery runs. The format applies throughout my build up all the way to the Melbourne Marathon. What makes up each of the four key sessions gradually changes throughout the build up. One important element I didn't list are the races I will compete in.

Why include racing?

I see racing as an essential piece of the puzzle. Racing provides a number of gains that simply can't be developed as well just on the training track. However, racing can be the undoing of a what was initially a good plan if not incorporated well.

The key reasons include races throughout the training cycle are:

  • Enjoyment - it's easier when you enjoy what you're doing
  • Mental toughness - where you really learn how to push your limits
  • Racing fitness - can only truly be developed in races
  • Feedback - nothing like a true test of your training

Races provide that prolonged, high intensity running, often with some extra effort thrown over the top that you just can't get out of a training run. If I can absorb the physiological and psychological benefits without requiring a large amount of time for recovery, then there is the possibility of large fitness gains. Of course, with the chance for bigger gains, comes the risk of injury or the need for extra recovery. Which can lead to reduced training and therefore less than ideal fitness gains or even loss of fitness. Naturally there are strategies to enhance to the benefits and minimise the risks.

How does racing fit into the schedule?

A good portion of my training and racing is dictated by my work roster. Luckily I have every second weekend available for the next few weeks. Which means I have the potential to race every fortnight for a while.

I will be treating races simply as a hard training run. To that end I won't be tapering my training in any way leading into any race. Instead I will keep training through. The key difference will be that I may have to take it a bit easier over the two days after racing. Even have an extra day at aerobic conditioning before doing any harder runs. Over the years I have found training through seems to limit the amount of damage I can cause myself.


The average extra performance from tapering has been considered to be 3% (2-6% range). By training through, I consider myself to be racing at 3-6% below my absolute best. However, racing at this level allows for repeatable and sustainable racing. It is well established athletes cannot perform at a peak for extended periods of time, or even many peaks throughout a year. The answer for my situation is to accept a standard, aim to gradually raise that standard, then when it really counts use that extra 3% in the marathon.


After all the long winded reasoning, the practial solution is simple. A race will take the place of one of the key running sessions in the current cycle. There will be no change of training before the race. Afterwards I will take 2-3 days easy with running at recovery pace if required, but aiming for a good run at aerobic conditioning level before returning to anything harder.

The key runs will be susbstituted as follows:

30-60minIntense (AT)
>60min Medium


  1. Hey Jason. Enjoying your blog and good to read your thoughts on structuring a training program. Cheers, PB

  2. Yes, the good thing about 'training through' is that you're not fresh enough to really cane the legs.

    My tendency would be to run even or negative split type races - thus spending less time near the 'red line'.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

New Blog: Running Alive

Race Report: Sandy Point Half Marathon

This Is Forty