This is an excerpt from Faster Road Racing by Pete Pfitzinger & Philip Latter.
After the Race
Each of the schedules includes a week after your key race for recovery and a transition into full training for your next race. During the recovery week, the running is easy to allow your muscles to recover and loosen up from your supreme race effort. The only effort is a set of strides on Saturday, to stretch your legs and help them feel normal again. If you have raced 15K or longer, you may need an extra several days or even another week to fully recover. You will find two-week recovery schedules in chapters 10 and 11.
Continuing Your Season
After your goal race, the question is what to do next. The schedules in this chapter will get you back racing on the roads almost immediately. After 10 weeks of diligent training, you will be fit and can continue to race successfully over a range of distances. This is a great opportunity to show your fitness at distances from 5K through the half marathon. With careful planning, you can repeatedly race at close to your best. Appendix B shows equivalent race performances from 5K through the half marathon to help you compare performances between race distances and set goals for your upcoming races. The following guidelines will assist you in repeatedly racing successfully:
- Select your races wisely.
- Prepare specifically for your next race.
- Taper just enough for each race.
- Recover quickly from each race.
- Maintain your aerobic base.
- Know when you have had enough.
1. Select Your Races Wisely
In choosing your races, balance the desire to race frequently with your passion to race well. Too much racing and too little training can quickly compromise your performances. When you select your races, try to cluster two or three races together with several weeks for training between clusters. This will provide plenty of racing opportunities but also allow adequate training time between clusters. For example, you could race a 5K, 10K, and 15K in close succession and then devote three or four weeks to training to top up your aerobic base with higher mileage and longer endurance runs. By alternating clusters of races with several weeks of solid training, you can race frequently but also maintain your fitness across a long racing season.
2. Prepare Specifically for Your Next Race
The specific preparation required for your next race depends on the distance of your next race and the emphasis of your recent training. This chapter offers balanced preparation to race from 5K through the half marathon. To fine-tune your preparation for a 5K or 10K, you can simply include several V\od\O2max workouts (or, in the case of a 15K, 10 mile, or half marathon, add a few lactate threshold sessions and endurance runs). You can also simply jump into the appropriate training schedule for that distance.
3. Taper Just Enough for Each Race
As you saw in chapter 6, a thorough taper allows your body to fully recover so you can race your best. Too many thorough tapers too close together, however, can lead to a loss of fitness during the course of your racing season. To race optimally over multiple races, you need to abbreviate your taper for all but the most important races. Chapter 6 describes a four-day mini-taper for less important races and a one-week taper for moderately important races. Make sure to save the full two-week taper for a few key races per year.
4. Recover Quickly From Each Race
To repeatedly race successfully, you will benefit from learning to recover quickly from your races so you can return to full training quickly. One key is to hold back during the first three days after your race when your muscles and tendons are stiff and least resilient. After three days, if you do not have particularly tight muscles threatening to become an injury, you can start to safely increase your mileage. Other suggestions for speeding recovery are provided in chapter 2. How quickly to ramp up your training depends on the distance you have raced; longer races require longer recovery before you get back to full training.
5. Maintain Your Aerobic Base
The most important factor in racing repeatedly at a high level across a long season is to maintain your aerobic base. When you taper, race, and recover repeatedly, your mileage begins to slip. This is not a problem for one or two races, but across several races you may find that your training volume has been reduced for a prolonged period and your aerobic fitness is eroding.
To avoid losing your aerobic base and the associated reduction in racing performance, you need to find ways to maintain your training mileage between races. The following are strategies for maintaining mileage during your racing season:
- Increase the duration of your warm-up and cool-down before and after V\od\O2max workouts, lactate threshold sessions, speed workouts, and races.
- Add a few miles to your endurance runs and general aerobic runs.
- Add an easy recovery run on days with a V\od\O2max workout or speed session.
6. Know When You Have Had Enough
The final consideration in designing your racing schedule is maintaining your hunger to race. Racing too often eventually leads to a lack of desire and lackluster performances. Only you can judge when another race is one too many.
Learn more about Faster Road Racing.