The Path to Marathon Success - Races
by Benji Durden

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Races

The races that are scheduled for every third week of the program are almost as important as the long runs. It's been my experience that if I didn't race often enough before a marathon, I wouldn't feel "race fit" when I needed to. I was fit enough, but the shock of racing left me with dead legs way too early in the marathon. I knew this could be a problem going into the '80 Olympic Trials, so as part of my preparation I raced every week for 18 weeks.

Even though I had a race scheduled for the weekend, I still did my long runs every Thursday. Some of my races were good, but others reflected that I was still tired just a couple of days after a 2-hour run. But my goal was the race at the end of the plan--the Olympic Trials--not these "training" races. It must have worked because at the Marathon Trials, I ran a PR by 3 minutes to finish second and make the Olympic team.

That's why I believe that if you have to choose only two workouts to do other than easy runs, do a weekly long run and race often. Try not to become too concerned about your times at these races because you'll be fatigued from the hard training. The schedule is flexible. It doesn't have to be exactly a three-week cycle; you can swap a weekend race with a long run and be fine. But don't drop the long runs entirely in favor of racing because they're more important in the overall plan. If you have time during the week to do your long run, consider swapping Thursdays' workouts with Sundays' to get in a long run even when you have a race planned.

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Credits: Text copyright 1996 by Benji Durden

This article has informational purpose and  isn't a substitute for professional advice.

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