A Successful Return to Racing

My last race was a 15k at the beginning of December.  My last Half Marathon was at the end of November.

To many of you that doesn’t seem like a long layoff.

I used to run over 30 races a year and one half marathon almost every month…

So yes, I feel VERY RUSTY (and nervous.)

Here’s my advice and I hope to have followed it…

  • Adjust Your Mindset

For me and many other runners, it’s not that I am not physically ready. It’s my mind that is not ready.

If I go into the race with a negative mindset, I am setting myself up for failure before I even start the race.

By a negative mindset, I mean that I think I will be slower than I hope or that the race will feel harder that I’d like.

So I need focus on the positives:

    • get to race.
    • I am prepared for whatever the race throws at me. 
    • Racing is a gift.
    • Racing is an experience to enjoy. 
    • A bad race is only a single day in my fitness journey.
    • I can learn and grow from any sub-optimal performance. 
  • Set Non-Finish Time Goals

Obviously, it depends on how long your layoff was and if it was related to illness, injury and other challenges in your life.

No matter what the reason for your time off from racing, your finish time will most likely be slower than your times before the layoff.

And the last thing you want is to be let down in your first race back.

Plus, focusing too much on a finish time could actually hinder your race performance.

Non-finish time goals could be:

    • Not starting too fast and running negative splits.
    • Thanking volunteers and waving at spectators.
    • Experiencing zero DOMS the next day.
    • Crossing the finish line with a smile.
    • Running with a friend so they can run their best race.
    • Sticking with run/walk intervals the whole race.
    • No walk breaks.
    • Successful use with a new fuel plan or new shoes/clothes.
  • Embrace the Experience

No matter the reason for your time off, the first race back should be a joyful occasion.

Before the race, think about what you missed most from racing:

    • the spectators,
    • the start line excitement,
    • seeing new scenery,
    • crossing the finish line.
    • the bling,
    • meeting other runners,
    • sharing the experience on social media,
    • post-race refreshments,
    • the challenge

 Focus on these things during the race when things get hard, especially those final miles..

Go into your first race after a layoff with an open mind and eager heart.

And don’t forget – Racing is a Gift!

Happy Running!  Have you ever experienced a layoff from racing?  Any advice to share regarding your return to racing? Please share.






Since it’s Tuesday, I’m joining the link-up organized by Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner)

I’m also linking up here:

with co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running.

20 thoughts on “A Successful Return to Racing

  1. Racing is indeed a gift.
    I’ve just done my first race since September 2022. 9 months of no racing!
    For this one, I initially didn’t want to run for time. However, once I started, the old race-mode kicked in and I HAD to go all out. I didn’t really have the fitness for it and I was totally exhausted at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In the past I didn’t enter a race if I was not ready at 100%. Now for me, as you wrote, racing is a gift. No matter the finishing time or if I am among the latest of the last pack. I enjoy the scenery, the atmosphere of the event, the possibility to write one more race done on my log-book and to get other running photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good advice. I was supposed to run two races in April but wasn’t able to because of covid and my recovery has taken longer than I had hoped so now I’m not sure when I’ll race again. After early June it’s just too hot here so unless I race later this month or I travel somewhere cooler, I likely won’t race again until the fall. Have a great race!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post!!! As much as we love it and want to get back to racing, it can be hard. It would be a shame to never race again just because we can’t reach our old PRs. I’ll keep this in mind for my next one (which will be July 4th 5k!) Your race is this weekend, right? GOOD LUCK and I can’t wait to hear all about it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It can definitely be challenging to get back to racing after time off! For the runners I coach sometimes I suggest doing a race for fun before a big race so they feel comfortable being out there. It definitely feels weird to race when you haven’t done it in awhile!

    Liked by 1 person

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