By Kristina Pattison, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Kristina Pattison running in the north hills, Missoula. Photo by Ben Herndon Photography
January is when runners reassess, rebuild, and refocus on the coming season. This year, with or without resolutions, is an opportunity to grow and improve. When considering which races to select and how to structure the season try these ideas to make the most of your year and reduce the risks of developing an overuse injury: select your key races, identify training blocks for each race, and consider using other races for practice.
SELECT KEY RACES
First, selecting your most important, or key races often will be intuitive. Which races are you the most excited about or drive you to compete or set a PR? I had a coach once tell me “the key race is the one you geek out about the most.” When considering these events are they spaced apart enough to give you time to reassess, rebuild and refocus? Generally, the space between events is relative to the race
duration. For marathons, for example, you may only have time during the season to achieve peak fitness for one or two key events.
PLAN TRAINING BLOCKS
Second, once your events are planned and entry into those races is guaranteed, you may begin by looking at structuring your year training and racing calendar. Running coaches will plan a progressive build up to race season, selecting blocks of time that focus on specific goals e.g. building base miles, improving speed to meet race goals, or race specific training. These may be divided into the base build when you build volume, the pre-competition period when you are working on speed or quality, the early-competition period when you start competing to practice for the big event, the race season when you’re at your peak fitness, and finally the recovery period.
PREPARE FOR THE BIG EVENT
Third, as you consider the goals of the early-competition period, you may consider entering some less important events to practice racing. This can be at an event that is sensible considering the distance of the practice race, and time before your main event. When considering these races, it is important to be very cautious with your goals because you shouldn’t be at peak fitness until you’re fully ready for the main event. Often these races are fun, local, low-key events (or not local if friendly competition will spur you to over-weight the race).
Planning your season ahead is a very important step to ensuring you get the most of your training, you perform as well as you would like, and to decrease chances of being sidelined by injury or overtraining.
Kristina Pattison is a Missoula, Montana based runner focused on mountain, ultra, sky and trail. Locally, she works as a physical therapist for Alpine Physical Therapy at the Peak Health and Wellness Center Downtown. She is board certified in orthopedics and certified as a specialist in strength and conditioning. Alpine provides specific services for runners including gait evaluation and running-specific training.
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