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Racing: How much is too much?

Answered By Jeff Arbogast

Question

I am a guy Junior XC runner. I'm only racing four times before CIF, but three of the races are within two weeks of each other. Will this result in me burning out by the end of the season? I know that racing too much can cause an athlete to just get tired and not peak at the right time. Any advice is appreciated very much.

Answer

Good to hear from you again! Overall, your racing load is not too great . . . 4 times in a season before the CIF. Your concern is the timing. The concept of "burn out" is more a lack of having fun than too much racing or training. As long as you are varying the training, going 'hard-easy' on different days of your weekly microcycle, and allowing yourself a good rest prior to racing, overall you have nothing to worry about. Now . . . depending upon the timing of the races though, you need to be aware of the overall training load (volume) and the speed (intensity) that you are subjected to during the racing phase. Stay with strength and hills now when you are not racing. Build all the stamina you can with longer intervals . . tempo runs . . power runs . . now. As you get closer to the 'racing phase' of your season, throttle back on the volume, strength, and hills, pay good attention to speed, staying sharp, full recovery, good rest (including sleep), hydration, nutrition, and positive motivation/visualization of the upcoming courses. Remember . . .by season's end, the "hay is in the barn" . . your job is to maintain and stay healthy. Don't worry about racing too often. 5k distances, when a proper warm-up and warm-down is used, really aren't that big of a deal. Imagine racing in the Olympics where you have multiple heats and qualification rounds! Above 5k you may have a problem, but you will be able to race 5k when you need as long as you aren't also asking your body to do a lot of other work in addition to the racing. Taper off the volume, stay positive, think speed, and you'll be fine.

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