Racing as Training

I’ve learned over the last few months that using shorter races as training runs for longer races can be very useful and effective. For example, people training for their first marathon may do a few 10k’s and a half-marathon sometime during their training cycle. As the distances go longer, it becomes harder and harder to gain motivation to do a long run, especially if you run by yourself like I do. (Seriously thinking about joining an run club for crazy ultrarunners.) Before my first 50 miler in April I had run 3 50k’s and one marathon during training. For my next 50 miler, I’ve done 2 50k’s so far, and several long-ish trail runs.

Since running has been taking over my life, I decided that rather than do some of the 50k’s I was thinking of signing up for, but that take place on the weekends, I would just try to do some longer runs by myself on my other days off.

Tuesday I attempted to do a solo 30 mile run.

It fell short to about 21 miles. I woke up too late, wore too much clothing for the 80 degree weather (you lie!!!!), and didn’t pack enough food. If I run 20 miles in a marathon training cycle (where most training runs would be on the road), it would take me about 3 1/2 hours, and I would eat about 3 GU, or 300 calories worth of food. This is NOT sufficient for a 21 mile trail run. Climbing 5,300 ft. takes a lot of energy, and I suppose I underestimated my necessary food intake. Vastly. Towards the end of the run, the heat and hunger were getting to me. I started to hallucinate, and I imagined I saw wild turkeys on the trail.

I also hallucinated water. Sitting on a throne. Weird.

All in all, it was a tough run. I got a little lost on the trail and became discouraged. I definitely didn’t push myself as much as I could have.

Here are my conclusions about using races as training runs:


-Well stocked aid stations

-Other people on the course=competition to push yourself, and company to talk to when the going gets tough

-Conveniently placed colored ribbons so you do not get lost

-You’re forced to get up early! Good thing if like me, you’re not a morning person

-A cool coaster (or medal as the case may be) and a t-shirt

-Lovely race photos

-You have to get it done or your record is tainted with a DNF (did not finish)


-Races are usually farther to drive to than you’d go for a training run

-I like my $$ and don’t enjoy parting with it

-Most races are on the weekend. Sometimes you have to sacrifice social plans. (Pro is I’m not that popular :))

-Competition is not always good when in training. If you push yourself too much you can get injured or just take much longer to recover. Not the purpose of a training run.

-“Lovely” race photos

So although races are convenient ways to get long runs in (especially when those long runs are 30 miles), I don’t think I will be racing until the big one. I have about 2 more weeks of pushing myself and doing long runs until my favorite time of training: taper time!

I will conclude this post with a link to an article about chicking. It’s a cool article, but the comments are the most interesting. Who knew this was such a controversial and hot topic?? Ellie Greenwood is a rock star and she’s gonna kill it at Western States this weekend. She’s ultra-runnings’ Kara Goucher. Go Ellie!

Since I “chicked” several guys at American River 50, here’s a photo of me “chicking”:

(those are my glasses in the eye holes)

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer thus far :)

2 thoughts on “Racing as Training

  1. I am continually amazed at how much better prepared you need to be for a trail run than for a road run. Like you said, the fuel you could use for a road run is usually insufficient for the same distance on a trail (particularly one with the elevation gain you are climbing — crazy!) In addition to the beautiful scenery, I find the mental challenge of distance trail running so fascinating. I haven’t done much trail running yet, but once Nugget gets older, I hope to do more. Thanks for sharing what you learn on your training as you go!

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