Five tips for planning your racing schedule

Races… they’re why most of us train right? We pick something we fancy doing, then we set out a training schedule in advance to help us reach a peak come race time. But with the huge volume of races now on offer not just in Australia, but around the world how the hell do you go about choosing which ones to do, which ones to prioritise and try to ensure you don’t burn out from going after too many?

Brendan is the current record holder at TNF 100 Australia
Brendan is the current record holder at TNF 100 Australia

One guy that knows a thing or two about this kind of stuff is Brendan Davies. One could call him a serial racer, he always seems to pop up at a race somewhere, if it’s not his local Parkrun up in the Blue Mountains, or the Western States 100 over in the US you can bet you’ll find him somewhere. But there is a logic to his schedule, and he’s very kindly offered to provide our readers with some tips to help you out with your own planning of races and schedules.

Many of our Aussie readers will know who Brendan is, and I would like to think, some of our US readers too after his magnificent top 10 finisher over at Western States just a few weeks ago. But for those that don’t, Brendan was voted our Aussie Ultrarunner of the year last year, he’s also the current course record holder at TNF100 Australia, and just two weeks after finishing 8th at Western States, he popped out a casual 7:26 100kms to win the Centennial Park Ultra this weekend just gone. He’s also recently set-up his own coaching business, UP Coaching where he’ll be passing on his tips of the trade to those who wish to train under his mentorship. If you’re keen to get on board the coaching train, be sure to give him a try. Not only is he a talented athlete, but a top bloke too.

So without further ado, here are five tips / experiences from Brendan to keep in mind when planning your racing schedule…

How should do plan your race schedule?

My wife would say that I say yes to absolutely everything and then I justify how they all fit in. I have to be honest, there’s some truth in that! Planning usually starts with choosing 2 ‘A’ races for the year, with ideally 4-5 months in between them. Then I backward map from them. Occasionally I will use races as stepping stones or as training races (instead of my long run) or just as a way to see my mates, get out and run.

Do you give your races an ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’?

Definitely. A lot impacts on what becomes an ‘A’ race, but it’s usually the most competitive and the most prestigious or an invitation from a sponsor or race director. My ‘A’ races in 2012 were TNF100 and GNW100 miler. Last year they were UTMF and TNF which were in a ‘block’ rather than months apart and this year, they are Western States and the World 100km Champs in November.

‘B’ races tend to be those that are quality races which are usually very specific to the ‘A’ race, for example this year Buffalo Stampede had a positive affect on UTMF and in turn UTMF on Western States. ‘C’ races tend to be the local, more low-key events which I love running just as much as any other.

How do you make sure you’re not over-racing and you keep your body healthy and in check?

Only once do I think I’ve really over done it, last year I tried Coastal Classic and Woodford 2 Glenbrook on consecutive days followed by a hard 50k the following weekend in Japan, then Surf Coast Century in Victoria which was a sufferfest from 20km onwards as my legs were toast. I guess I just try to keep the hard races well apart, but when it comes to easier, shorter races, I could do them every 2nd day if I had the chance. Physically my body has adapted to a heavy race and training workload and I recover well. But mentally sometimes, races take longer to recover from.

How do you prepare for each of your races, according to the importance of each?

For the ‘A’ races, I phase my training backwards from race day properly, making sure to peak on race day. I train specifically and with purpose, do all the little 1%’s and include a proper taper. ‘B’ races will usually mean having the day before off running and ‘C’ races are just part of the training week wherever I am up to in my training phase, nothing different to going out for a training run.

Brendan after his UTMF experience a few years back! (Photo credit Nadine Davies)
Brendan in ‘recovery’ mode after his UTMF experience a few years back! (Photo credit Nadine Davies)

Provide a bit of an overview of your recovery techniques?

After any race or hard training run I always am straight into some protein drink and if my legs have taken a hammering, some compression tights. Then I will have a high protein/carb meal to replace my glycogen stores and start the repair process. If need be an ice bath, but most usually a hot bath and a good night’s sleep. The next day it’s really important to get out and do some easy exercise, to get the muscles loose and the blood flowing. Once you get past the first km things usually loosen up and you’re feeling much better!

Thanks to Brendan for sharing his tips and advice, hopefully something for you all to take something from.





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