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  • Writer's pictureTim Bradley, Sr. Director of Training/Interim Executive Dir.

Ask Coach Bradley - 5 Types of Races You Should Have On Your Schedule

Whether you are part of our CARA training programs, working towards your next 5k PR, or a beginning runner CARA Sr. Director of Training and Head Coach Tim Bradley is here to answer your training questions!

Q: I am currently mapping out my racing schedule for the rest of the year. What types of races should I have on my calendar?

A: As numerous races continue to come back and offer runners a large variety of opportunities, now is a great time to get races on your schedule and start planning for the rest of the year. Five different types of races to consider include:

Rust Buster: Sometimes also referred to as an "opener". These types of races are meant to be your first race back after a break and lay the foundation for where your fitness is starting during the early part of your training segment. If it has been a long time since you have raced at all, consider starting with a "rust buster" type race. Something short like a 5k – 8k where you are not so worried about the total race distance, but more about what type of pace you can maintain. This will get the race juices flowing again and can give you an idea of where you are fitness-wise.

Fitness Check: Once you have a few more weeks of training under your belt, you can schedule a fitness check race. These can be almost any distance from 1 mile up to a half marathon. Give yourself a modest goal that shows improvement but still gives you room for growth as you get deeper into your training. The main thing is you want to see positive progress and feel fitter in this race than in your first race.

Tune-Up: This type of race is generally set a month to two weeks out from what your overall target goal race is. For example a 10k before a half marathon or a half marathon before a marathon. This is your last chance to tune up, assess fitness, and get ready for your target goal race. By this time in your training you should be feeling pretty fit and are just putting the final touches on your fitness before you get ready to taper.

Target Goal Race: This is the race you plan to train for long term and have your most ambitious goal. Typically 3-6 months of training will go into this type of race. This is where you put in a full taper and start to put all the pieces together on race day to achieve your ultimate goal!

Back Up Race/ 2nd Target Race: As "Serial Marathoning" continues to gain popularity, these types of backup races or a 2nd target race, within quick succession, provide runners a backup race in case of poor weather conditions in their first target race. As most runners have experienced, certain adverse weather conditions have a massive impact on performance times.

Giving yourself a second chance to achieve your goal in reasonable weather conditions is a great idea and can take a little pressure off your first target race. By this time in your training, you know you can cover the race distance, you should feel fit and feel tapered. This combination along with a 2nd target race can lead to some really great results if done properly.


Sample Race Schedule Timeline

Weeks 4-6: Rust Buster Race

Weeks 8-12: Fitness Check Race

Weeks 14-16: Tune-Up Races

Weeks 18 or more: Target Goal Race #1

Post Week 18: Back up of Target Goal Race #2


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