/ / 7 Benefits of Running a Race During a Training Cycle

7 Benefits of Running a Race During a Training Cycle


Have you ever thought about running a race in the middle of a training cycle? While it’s certainly not necessary, participating in a race while training for a goal run can help nail down your race day routine, give you a boost of confidence, and be a “dress rehearsal” for your big day!

People are running a race. They are running towards the camera. In front is a woman wearing a long sleeve blue shirt, black leggings and lime green running shoes.

Keep in mind, running a race, especially in the middle of training, doesn’t mean you’re running your fastest and chasing down a PR. In fact, there are so many other factors of running that we can focus on to set us up well for an upcoming goal race.

Below we explore seven benefits of running a race during a training cycle so you head into your goal run feeling confident, excited, and ready to go!

7 Benefits of Running a Race During a Training Cycle

1. Nail down your fueling

First, running a race during a training cycle gives you an opportunity to nail down your fueling. Think about how you might fuel for your goal race and practice that. Are you taking a gel at the starting line? How often are you fueling? What are you drinking at aid stations? Gu Energy Gels, CLIF Shot Gels, and Honey Stinger Energy Chews and Gels are some examples of fuel you might take during a long distance race.

In addition, think about what you typically eat the night before, the morning of, and immediately after and see how everything sits in your stomach.

If all goes well, you now have confidence heading into your goal run that your fueling strategy works well for you!

Related: Fueling for Running: How to Fuel and Why It’s Important

2. Work through race day jitters

If you feel butterflies while standing on a starting line, know you’re not alone. It’s normal to feel nervous (just be sure you’re excited too), and how we handle these nerves can play a major role in the outcome of our race.

Even though you may feel extra jittery, stick to your plan for the race, don’t go out too quickly, and make sure you get in adequate pre-run fuel, even if your stomach feels queasy.

3. Practice following a race plan

Not every race needs to be about time, pace, and speed. It’s perfectly fine to approach a race with other intentions in mind.

On one hand, you might run a race as part of a workout and do a couple easy miles before as a warmup and a couple miles afterwards as a cool down. On the other hand, you can even run a race as a recovery run. How? Run at a recovery effort! We are in control of our speed and effort, so using races for easy and recovery runs is simple to do.

Related: RPE Running: When and Why to Focus on Running Off Effort

4. Test your mental strength

Another benefit of running a race during training is that you can test your mental strength. It’s possible you may choose to race without music, recite mantras to yourself, or practice positive visualization.

After the race, think about what went well, what didn’t, and why. If there’s anything you can work on, spend the rest of your training practicing it so you excel during your goal race.

Related: How to Build Mental Toughness: 6 Ways Runners Build Mental Strength

5. Assess your fitness

It might be that this race is early enough in your training that you can give it a hard effort. In that case, races are perfect opportunities to see where our fitness is before starting or early on in a training cycle. Our speed, pace, and finishing time can indicate what paces to aim for as we move throughout training.

6. Move through your race day routine

There can be a lot of stress when it comes to race morning. From pinning your bib to your shirt to finding parking at the start line, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Add in some pre-race nerves and it already feels like you ran a marathon before the race has begun!

Running a race during training gives you a chance to learn how to plan out your morning and get things done ahead of time. For instance, laying out your race clothes, fuel, and shoes in addition to pinning your bib to your shirt may be tasks you realize you want to do the night before, not the morning of.

Related: Best Running Gear for Beginner Runners

Related: The Ultimate Marathon Checklist: Must-Haves for a Strong Race

7. Have fun

Because isn’t that what this is all about? Running a race is FUN!

It’s important that every race brings you joy and deepens your love of this sport. Running a race during training with the goal of having fun, smiling, and celebrating what your body can do is always okay!

Related: 13 Measurable Goals for Runners That Have Nothing To Do With Pace

Interested in Working with Elizabeth?

I would love to help you reach your running goals! Email me at [email protected] or check out my Run Coaching Services page to learn more.

Comment Below

Do you incorporate races into your training?

If so, what’s something you practice during these races?

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