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Reasons to tackle new race distances

Already mastered the 5K? Why not double up and do 10? Always training for a marathon? Take a season to focus on speed instead.

Running Motivation
Running Motivation
Photo: Fred Goris.

Pretty much every runner gets stuck in a training rut from time to time. Motivation goes down, procrastination and excuses soar and training–and race times–seems to plateau. Here are a few reasons to tackle a new race distance this year in order to keep your training fresh and fun.

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It provides a new challenge

It’s hard to stay motivated for your daily morning, lunch or evening runs over the course of an entire year. One way to keep spirits high is to periodize your running which means running running a variety of shorter and longer runs and at very different paces. You can do this by running farther at a slower pace or by running shorter distances at a faster pace. Shorter, faster runs–including fartleks and intervals workouts–will improve leg speed and increase your VO2 max. An increased VO2 max translates to better form and increased efficiency, which proves beneficial for any distance.

Longer runs at a slower pace will build aerobic endurance and develop lower-leg muscle, tendon, and ligament strength. The body will slowly adapt to the longer distances and become more efficient. Each week, aim to add a long run that’s about 15 to 20 per cent of your weekly mileage.

You might also feel that you need a new challenge. Changing up distances is a great way to break up your training and try something new. If your lifelong goal has been to run a marathon, you can work off that for months at a time in advance of your race. Working towards that goal will help keep motivation high.

Explore new running routes

When pursuing new race distances, your training gets a makeover. You will need to find new routes around town. If stepping up in distance, you get the chance to explore new areas when you run long. You’ll be able to reach the local trails, the waterfront or the next town over without having to turn back prematurely.

Guaranteed personal best

Whenever you tackle a new race distance, you’re pursuing the unknown. Fortunately, when trying a new distance you’re given the opportunity to run a lifetime best on your first attempt. This is particularly helpful during a season where you may not have seen the improvements you were hoping for. And while that first attempt will be an automatic PB, we can almost guarantee that if you repeat the distance a few weeks or months later, you’ll likely get another one having learned something the first time around.

Already conquered the half-marathon and marathon? Try finding a 30K road race, which provides a happy medium between the two more generic distances.

You can justify self-indulgence

Every kilometre you run burns about 75 calories so adding a few minutes onto each run may pay off. You can better justify that slice of pizza or post-run beverage. You might also need that newest gadget or a pair of the latest shoes to accommodate training for a new race distance.