Racing: How Much is Too Much?

As I’m trying to plan out my 2014 racing season, I’m running into some snags. Or can I say I’m swimming, biking, and running into some snags? (No. I can’t.)

As of right now, things still stand exactly where I left you last. I’m registered for three sprint tris, one in June, one in July, and one in August. One triathlon a month sounds like a reasonable schedule, and if I want to do one more, I can add one in September and have a nice balanced racing season.

The problem is that I want to add 50 more.

I’ve often heard that a mistake most competitors make is trying to race too frequently, which leaves them tired and unprepared for the most important races. Obviously one strategy to mitigating this would be to simply treat a few races as training sessions, but I don’t think I am psychologically or physically capable of doing that. When I’m wearing a race number, I’m going to do everything I can to win. I can’t turn that off, and I don’t think I want to because that’s part of what makes me even mildly good at it.

Not to mention, we’ve had a horrific winter. The polar vortex sucked whatever pathetic cold tolerance I had out of me at a rate I’d quantify as follows: 1 day of polar vortex = 3 weeks of regular winter

That leaves me more than ready for spring (and Punxsutawney Phil can go to hell). Moreso, winters like this one and last one make me feel like I have to wring every last drop out of the summer weather, which makes me feel like I need to be racing every weekend.

And then (oh, yes, there’s more) there’s the rationalization that racing is when I get the return for the money and time I’ve invested in training and gear. If I’m not using it for what it’s meant for (going fast in races), then am I just wasting my resources? But if I don’t use it wisely (burn out every weekend) then is it worthwhile at all?

Triathletes in my area fall all over this spectrum. I know some crazy ones who are racing 2-3 times a month. I know some who do one race a year.

I guess for now I’m going to stick to my current once a month plan (and I’m still eying adding The Devil’s Challenge in September). How do you decide how much racing is enough?

Other updates:

I went for my second run, this time on a treadmill instead of outside (see above re: polar vortex) and am so happy to report zero knee pain during the run. My PT attributes this to the temperature difference between running inside versus outside this time of year. Whatever the reason, though, it was so encouraging that I almost started yelling with joy in the gym.

That being said, I’m more than a little freaked out that June is only 4 months away and I can still only run for a minute at a time.

My friend and former swim lane partner had a terrific suggestion after reading my post about no Olympic distance races: I should try an Olympic as part of a relay/team race this year. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before, because I’ve wanted to do a relay race for a long time, but it’s the perfect solution. So the plan is for me to swim and bike the Olympic distances, and Josh will run the 10k. That way I can get some experience at the longer distance and, as a bonus, my husband who has to listen to and watch triathlons all the time, can finally participate in one.

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5 comments
  1. Anne said:

    When Cuong has still doing ultra-marathons, there was a 70ish-year-old guy (I think his name was Stussi), who travelled around the country in an RV running about one ultra-marathon every week. There’s a certain amount of insanity to it all. I guess you have to balance how much you want to win with how much you want to race. And above all, be happy. 🙂

  2. Are those the 100 mile races? 100 miles every week… I can’t even imagine. I like hearing stories like these because it puts my insanity into perspective. 🙂

  3. Anne said:

    Technically an ultramarathon is anything over a marathon, so he was probably doing races between 50K and 100 miles. The longest one out there is 3100 miles.

    I make it a point to only have friends (and husbands) who are crazier than me.

  4. Anne said:

    I was surprised myself. The longest one I knew about was Badwater (135 miles) until I Googled “longest race”.

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