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Use an early-season road race to test your fitness—and adjust your training accordingly.
The pre-season months are the perfect time to test your run fitness in a short single-sport event such as a 5K or 10K. “Physically it is a good barometer of where your run racing fitness is at, plus it allows you to work on mental race preparation,” says USAT Level III coach Tim Crowley. After the race, you’ll have accurate data to update your current “race pace” times.
A few upcoming events to consider:
April 7, Carlsbad, Calif.
Touted as “The World’s Fastest 5K,” the flat, fast, seaside road race always attracts both elite talent (the course is home to 16 world records!) and thousands of amateurs to its 28-year-old course. Races go off in waves so you have a fair chance at a PR. But the party doesn’t stop once you cross the finish line: Soak up the San Diego sun at the post-race party, featuring live music and free beer from local favorite Pizza Port. Want a more demanding test of your early-season fitness? Try the All Day 25K Challenge—you race five 5Ks in one day!
Tour de Patrick
Early March, various locations
The Tour de Patrick encompasses three 5K races in eight days throughout the Northeast. Each race precedes the corresponding city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Participants can enter all three to take a shot at the Tour de Patrick champion title—the person with the fastest overall time for the three 5Ks.
Dash Down Greenville 5K
March 16, Dallas
After the race, you’ll be treated to beer, food, a live band and cash prizes. The race also provides food locally for those in need—last year the event raised more than $60,000 (or 184,584 meals)!
Adidas Shamrock Run 5K, 8K, and 15K
March 17, Portland, Ore.
The 15K Shamrock Challenge involves a hilly 9.3-mile course, and all finishers get a Shamrock bottle opener medal at the finish line. You can also bring the kids for the 1K Leprechaun Lap.
Mind Your Racing Manners
If you’ve been focusing on triathlon for a while, you may need a refresher course on proper etiquette at a road race. New York City-based coach Jonathan Cane shares some of his tips for running a road race without angering your fellow athletes.
• Check before you fire. Before you spit or unleash a snot rocket, “Just gauge the wind and be respectful of those around.”
• Be aware of your own space. “Because running races are denser, we sometimes forget that we need to play well with others. Make sure you don’t impede another runner’s progress by cutting across the road to get that magical cup of water.”
• Practice manners at aid stations. “It wouldn’t hurt to be nice to the volunteer who gives you the water. Also, don’t toss your cup over your shoulder like there’s no one behind you.”
• Crowd the road. “If you want to socialize and run with a friend, that’s fine, but don’t form a conga line. Running two abreast is OK, but more than that isn’t.”
• Share your life story. “It’s a race—why are we talking?”
• Bandit a race. “It’s wrong on a number of levels. It’s disrespectful to those who paid for the race because you’re using up their resources and taking up space. And it’s certainly discourteous to the race organizers.”
• Line up above your ability level. “If you’re running 7:45s and you’re lining up with a bunch of Ethiopians … it’s probably not going to help your race, and even if it does, it suggests your race is more important than everybody else’s.”
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