The weeks and months before your goal race are now starting to wind down. As a result, the intensity and volume of your training is likely ramping up or approaching its peak. But before it does, it’s valuable to ‘check in’ and see where you’re at.
This self-evaluation should include the training you’ve done to date, your current fitness level and whether you’re feeling healthy and injury free. You should also begin thinking about your goals for the fall and whether they still seem realistic and attainable.
The first step is to assess where you’re at now. If you’re unsure, there are a number of ways to get a sense of it.
Do a tune-up race
Summer is a great time to test your speed and fitness. Fortunately, there is an abundance of shorter runs and races offered. Consider signing up for a 5K or 10K early in your training to get a sense of where you are now. That will act as the base for setting (or re-setting) your training paces going forward. You can also use your result and any number of online running calculators to determine what your training paces and possible race goals should be.
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Try a time-trial
If you can’t find or would prefer not to run an organized race or event, you can always do your own time trial and push yourself in a hard workout. Try to aim for at least 5K at a very hard (race-like) pace or else consider a longer (30 to 45 minute) tempo at a comfortably hard pace to test your endurance. This will also help you determine where you’re at and what you’re capable of going forward.
Set a schedule
You’re likely already following some sort of scheduled training plan or program. Even so, now is the best time to recommit to following it as closely as possible and double down your efforts to stick to what it says. If you’re not already following a plan, you should probably consider drafting a rough schedule that indicates what days and what types of runs you plan to do. Commit to your training each day and try to prioritize the most important runs–workouts and long runs–so you get the biggest boost.
Get a second opinion and solicit the help of others
Running may often seem like a lonely, solitary activity but it really doesn’t need to be. There are plenty of running clubs, crews, meet-ups and coaching services available to share your training, log a few miles with here and there or just ask questions and get advice. Most runners are happy (some overly so) to share their own experiences and wisdom. The running community also consists of some of the most welcoming and inviting people around. Whether in person, online or before, during or after a run, talk to other runners and share your training. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn.
If you’re beginning to feel wron down or on the verge of injury, now is also the best time to seek help and treatment from any number of professionals. Sports physicians, massage therapists, physios, chiropractors, dieticians among others, all have the knowledge, skills and experience to help you deal with potential problems and guide you on a path to recovery and success.