As we settle into 2014, many people are thinking about what races they are going to do. Nothing motivates you more to get out of bed on a cold morning, drive to the pool, then submerge yourself for an hour or more, than knowing that you have a race coming up. But there is a dark side of racing that you should know about.
In my opinion, too many people stack their calendars with too many needless races. You do not need to run a 5k one week, then a 10k open water swim the next, and finish off the month with a marathon only to turn around and do an Ironman. Not only would such a schedule be outrageously stressful on family commitments, but it also stresses your training. Racing so much can actually take away from your training because the more you race the more you have to cut back before the race and then cut back after the race to recover.
I can understand the allure of racing; I like to race too. I like the tense pre-race feeling, the surge of energy as the gun goes off, the hormonal high that you get as you exorcise those demons in your head, then the rush of pleasure as you cross the finish line. Then, there is the bragging rights and finisher’s medal and t shirt. Races can also push you into a zone and level of uncomfortability that you simply cannot get in training, but at what cost?
I think people feel that they need all these races validate their training and prove that what they are doing is working. They have a fear that they are not improving or doing the right thing, so they need a race to prove to themselves and the world that they are training well. The in essence need a confidence booster.
I am not advocating that you not race at all but rather be selective in your races so that you can make them count. Ask yourself whether it would be better to scrap that 5k charity race and instead do an intense or rather lengthy ride instead. Is it worth the entry fee if you are going to treat it as an intense workout? Moreover trust the process and trust your training so that when you do get to the start line, you are 100% ready and confident.
Coach Chris and Kev