28. Thoughts on racing

Dear Liz
Each race always costs me at least 2-3 weeks of recovery. And that’s when I’m fit. The bigger the race, the more mental and physical energy it takes out of me. Double that for hilly races with 46 000 people blocking every inch of the road.


If you’re not enjoying running much in general, I’d wager you’re probably running too fast and getting knackered in the process.

Targeted speed can work wonders in small doses, but for 90 % of the time it is better to run SLOW and save your mental energy and excitement for race day. After a half marathon, you might easily need 131 low stress miles to recover.

Running too fast in training is a constant problem for me. It’s the pressure to improve that makes it tempting. Yet running slow burns fat, improving performance. Running fast burns glycogen and burns you out. We know all of this, yet selectively ignore it.

Leaving the watch at home is the first step to recovery. A couple of social runs with a beer at the end may also help.

Finally, I used to think that sport could chill me out after a hard time the rest of the week. Now I know that I have to be chilled out first, or the sport will suffer. This goes against the accepted wisdom, but I know it to be true. When the pressure lifts and the skies lighten, my game always improves.

Related articles:
45. T-I-R-E-D
24. Things I have learned… #267
32. The bad run
47. A taper text
31. Running slow
13. A winter night’s fartlek – Guildford town and track

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