Have a plan for your racing.
So as we enter another racing season, I often get asked how to plan it out. For me the key when I was doing the shorter stuff was to get myself to somewhere close to peak fitness and then I would try to hold onto it and even refine it somewhat if possible.
You may not know that it can take two weeks to fully recover from a half marathon race. So if you are racing every one to two weeks, any attempt to fit in your high intensity training or peak phase of your plan will simply lead to overload and a potential crash and burn. If you have a couple of races, a couple of weeks apart, your focus should be on recovery, fine tuning and holding your form. If you're trying to train hard during this time to move your fitness forwards, you need to realise you started your plan too late.
So with that in mind, it's great to hit your peak fitness at the start of the season and then hold onto it, but the season can be four months long, and that's a long time to hold your fitness. For that reason, your season should be planned with A,B and C races. Accept before you’ve run a single race this year that you can't and won’t perform well at every race, and you shouldn’t expect to. This is why some races need to be more important that others. Below are some simple guidelines:
Don't fill your season with races every weekend, you'll burnout and your performances and your enthusiasm will suffer.
Plan some mini-breaks where you recover and refresh.
If it's not categorised as an 'A' race, then it's simply not important. I commonly hear that people have stated that an event is not an ‘A’ race and they're training through and not tapering. They then go out and race flat out, destroy themselves, perform poorly and are subsequently really disappointed with their performance. Allow for training time and racing time. Training can happen in race conditions, you just don’t need to smash yourself.
If you have two to three races in quick succession, your focus should be recovery and refining for the next race. You really can’t train hard during this period, plan your weeks accordingly or be disappointed with your performances.