Strategies for racing every week for fun and motivation.
Can You Run a Race Every Weekend?
Short answer: Yes, you can certainly run a race every weekend, at least during the mid-to-late season.
Just make sure your preparation is adequate, and that your goals are reasonable. We suggest that you don’t attempt this unless you have some racing experience, and are familiar with how your body recovers. And we strongly suggest that you don’t expect to maintain peak condition week after week after week. The body just doesn’t work like that—it can reach a fitness peak once every several months, and then it needs time to recover and to prepare for the next cycle.
Here are a couple of reasonable goals and strategies:
1. Pure fun. If you’re a recreational runner, and just happen to think that races are fun and motivating, then by all means, race every weekend. You’re not going to be tempted to go for a medal or a personal best week after week, so you’re not at high risk of overtraining and injury. As far as effort and recovery, you can just treat each race as a training run, albeit one with crowds and fanfare.
2. Keeping your competition training interesting. If you’re a competitive runner, you can use weekend races as a motivating part of your training routine. Choose races that fit the current stage or your training program, and race to train, as opposed to only training to race.
This has long been a strategy among professional cyclists in Europe. They enter weekend races at all levels, oftentimes small-town races where the locals are thrilled to see them. And they will race hard, or will hold back, or in some cases won’t even finish—because the race is not an end in itself. It’s just a small part of their larger training picture.
You don’t have to be a pro to adopt this strategy. Just figure out you annual training program, and find weekend races that fit the schedule. If you’re a naturally competitive person, your challenge will be holding yourself back from pushing too hard. There will be many weekends, especially early in the season— or later, when a serious race is approaching, when you’ll need the discipline to go easy. You have to stick to your training schedule even it means racing slowly or stopping early.
No matter your reasons for racing every weekend, please be safe. Know that you can skip a race, or finish early, or run well below your race pace. No one will think less of you. Mid-season races are an opportunity for fun and motivation. You only have to push hard when it best serves you.