I love the conversations that happen during my Tuesday night track sessions. They are some of the best running conversations. Also on Tuesday we were talking about racing runs.
Racing a run means that you are running a training run at your goal pace for your race. I have a lot of knowledge on this topic. I used to do it until I started to train for the marathon. When I was training for my half marathons in the spring, every long run I did was done at goal race pace. Now, I realize, how bad this was for me. It was essentially like I was racing every weekend, which is not good.
The topic of racing runs came up when a man who was running the 9-minute pace group with one of the other women completing the track workout with me came down to the track saying his legs were hurting from "leaving it all out on the trail during the 22 mile training run." It is true - he was sprinting the last few miles and huffing and puffing to get it accomplished.
Racing a training run, especially one for a marathon, is not good for your legs. I couldn't imagine racing my 22-mile run on Sunday and being able to recover enough to run well during the week. I don't know all the scientific background and theories, but I do know a person should not run that fast. Staying aerobic is a-okay! There are other opportunities to run at race pace, as in speed work and tempo runs. These are not nearly as long as the race but still give your legs the opportunity to move at goal race pace.
I wish I would have learned this lesson earlier, but I am glad I realized it before I started marathon training. Runs would be hard every week if they were raced, instead of enjoyable. I would never want to take the fun and calmness out of running. Running helps me stay relaxed and focused in my everyday life, and I would never want to lose that for a long period of time.
Do you race runs? Or, do you like to train at an easier pace than your race goal time?