If you’re like me, cabin fever is already starting to set in, and we are barely into the winter season. This is the time of year that I start to think about what races I want to focus in on for the upcoming year. I find it a great way to stay motivated and focused on my training when it’s not my favorite time of year to train.
I always consider three main questions before I pull the trigger and sign up for my first “big” race, and plan out my training program accordingly. Evaluating these things has helped me to create realistic and attainable race goals for the upcoming season, and I hope that it can do the same for you.
1. How is my year looking?
There are years where training for races can be a top priority, and others where it may be secondary or on down the line depending on what else is going on. I try to think forward and determine how much time I can and want to realistically dedicate to race training with everything else that is going on in my life. Some things to consider when thinking about this include your work schedule, vacation schedules, interest in other hobbies, taking classes, and family obligations, among many other things. Knowing these things and thinking about them as they relate to training can help you get a grasp on what you can fully commit to. Obviously, sometimes other things come up, so always know it is okay to deviate from the plan when life happens.
2. Where is my fitness today?
A late fall or holiday race can be a great reality check for how you are doing with your training currently. Even if you are a little rusty, doing a race around this time of year will really tell you where you are at (whether you like it or not). If you have stayed in stride and had a great fall season, maybe it is time to consider pushing yourself a bit harder this spring by trying to go faster in your next 5K or racing a longer distance. Knowing where you are at in your training today will help you make a realistic goal for next year.
3. Was I healthy this year?
This may be the best question you ask yourself. Racing is a great way to accomplish a personal goal or get in touch with your competitive side. It is easy to get so caught up in a race goal that you neglect to take care of yourself and your health suffers. Looking back over the last year and thinking about any injuries or other health issues that may have been an effect of your training can help you to make an educated goal for the next year. Maybe you were injured because you did not have time to train correctly for that marathon, or you had a terrible diet because you spent so much time training that you ate anything that was convenient and easy to get your hands on. Maybe you are currently injured and will have to start back into racing a bit more slowly than normal. These are just a few examples of how training can negatively impact your health, but I suggest considering these things when planning for your upcoming race season.
Setting a goal now is a great way to get your year started off right and help get you through the winter training months with a realistic focus and plan. Whether you are thinking of completing your first race, training for the same race you run each year, or looking for new racing opportunities, setting a realistic and attainable race goal with an appropriate training plan is the key to success.
Cross the finish line with us this Spring! The 25th Annual Mini Marathon & 5K Training Program starts January 21–May 6, 2015. Training is at 6pm at NIFS downtown. Register today online!
This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.