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5 Reasons To Run An Official Race As A Training Run

When you have a short training cycle, the best thing to do may be to head to a starting line.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

I recently was invited to run a marathon halfway across the world. Awesome right?

Well, yes! But also—the race was only 5 weeks away. Eeek!!

So, I quickly accepted the offer (obviously) and scrambled to put together a training plan to get me race ready super fast. The timing couldn’t have been better because the LA Marathon was the next weekend. I decided to do the race as a super long run to see where my fitness was at. Then my best running friend was running the Phoenix Marathon two weeks later. I decided to run that race as my last long run.

Running a race in training is hard work! But there are some benefits to it too. I personally prefer to do a shorter distance like a half marathon in training for a full or a 10K in training for a half, but that wasn’t an option given the time constraints. So I bit the bullet and ran two races to get ready in a very short time for my destination race.

Here are some reasons why running a race in training is actually a great idea:

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1. It’s a dress rehearsal—literally.
Try out your planned race day gear to make sure everything feels good, fits right, doesn’t bug, doesn’t chafe…

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2. You get the race day jitters out!
Am I the only one that gets super nervous on race day? Running a “practice race” helps ease some of the nerves.

Related: Can You Truly Run A Race For Fun?

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3. You can practice your fueling.
What you eat before and during a race is really important! Make sure your stomach agrees with your food choices by planning out what you will eat and sticking with it on race day.

Practice your fuel and hydration plan during the race. Is your stomach sensitive? Do you need extra sodium? Do you do well with solid fuel, sports drinks or both?

Fueling for a long distance run is different for every body. Figure out what you need during training or your practice race.

training run race

4. You can observe your fitness level.
Hit the wall at mile 8? Have a really hard time on the hills? Want to die at mile 12?

Don’t get frustrated with yourself—this is TRAINING. You’re at the race to practice and observe without judgment. Just take in where your fitness level is at and assess if you should tweak your race goals. Learn from where you struggle. Build on those lessons.

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5. It’s fun!
Races are a lot more fun than long runs by yourself. I usually train solo so I feel like it’s a treat to run on the open road with thousands of people who love running as much as I do!

Have fun!

Related: Ask Yourself This Before Signing Up For A Marathon