What to Expect the SECOND Time You Train For a Race

This will be the second in a two part series where next week we’ll talk about what you should expect the first time you train for an event. You might think that the order should be reversed but I’m weird like that. So stay tuned until next week to find out what the first time training for a race is like. I’ve trained for the same event a few times now and it’s way, way different. Spoiler alert it can be a little disappointing. The first few times I retrained for an event there was a certain lackluster feeling compared to the first time. It took me a while to identify exactly what was going on and when I did it all started to make a lot of sense. But there are also aspects that make it way more calm. Personally, I think knowing what to expect is always an advantage no matter the challenge you’re tackling. Even though it feels less exciting the second time around the reasons for that are actually mostly really positive. So to that end lets dive into the particulars of retraining for an event.

Less anxiety

Having less anxiety about training and your race seems like a no brainer but it pops up in almost every aspect of re-training. As much as it makes sense it’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of being less anxious this time around. You might not even realize how anxious you were about so many things the first time around until you redo the whole process. At least that’s how it happened for me. The first time I trained for a half marathon I was worried about so many of the long run distances but that’s not all. I also worried that I was going to be embarrassingly slow on race day. I worried that would make me go out too fast and I wouldn’t be able to finish on race day. I gave the weather on race day way too much power and if any of that happened I worried that people would be disappointed in me. In short I worried about all the ways I could fail.

Every long run was hours and hours of a voice in my head that we could just accurately name Mr. Self Doubt. Mr. Self Doubt hung around though even when I wasn’t running and late into the night. He kept me googling well into the time I should have been sleeping he even made me panic that I was going to be dead last. I kept me going when my knee hurt and and I should have prioritized recovery. If there was one most important difference the second time around it’s that you are way, way less anxious and it’s almost impossible to overstate the impact that makes.

You know for a fact you can accomplish your goals

Probably the best thing about training for a race the second time around is that you do know for a fact you can do it. In fact you’ve done it before. It’s awesome because every time those old kernels of self doubt pop up you can remind yourself you’ve got this. It’s actually a game changer. Chances are you’re going to want to beat your previous time at least by a bit and that’s never a given but you know you’ll be able to cross the line. That kind of confidence is pretty great!

You have more capacity for quality training

The first time you do a plan for a new event there is a very, very good chance that it’s a bigger challenge then you’ve ever tackled before. The second time around it’s repeating something familiar. The first time that level of exertion and all the self doubt means that more than likely you’re just covering the distance and quality training probably isn’t getting done. When you repeat the training program you might even be fitter but you’ll definitely be more confident. That means when those speed workouts and hard workouts pops up on the schedule some quality effort can actually be put in. That means that with higher quality training happening on the regular there’s a darn good chance that you will beat your previous time.

You know how you’re going to feel

The realities of training do add up over a program. The first time you do a program every body pain, ache and scheduling issue feels like it’s putting the whole plan in jepordy. At certain points you feel so dog tiered, you’re incredibly hungry, you could be doing lots of training errands and an old injury might even start to nag at you. Any of those things alone can make you feel like you’re not going to make it through to the end. Every training cycle is different but some things pop up at the same time every single time. Even if you don’t exactly remember that your knee starts to hurt somewhere between weeks 8-11 of training when it happens again it will be familiar. You will read in a lot of places that you should keep a training journal which I’m guessing virtually none of us do. Since I usually blog once a week in training I have this great run by run journal to go back to. You don’t have to go to that level but a few notes in last year’s agenda goes a long way!

It is way more of a grind

So here’s the not so great aspect of training the second time around. That is without that extra first time nerves and knowing what to expect at every turn it is a little boring. The first time you train every long run is your longest run so far, every single week you break a record. The second time around there’s none of that so you can expect it to be quite a bit more dull. First time around every run seems incredibly important in getting you over the line on race day. The second time around you start to wonder how important every single shake out run is. I guess you can just say some of the excitement is gone. One thing I do to combat that is focus on the fun of race day when training gets dull.

Your inner voice now has wisdom instead of doubt

Ahhh, grasshopper… you have learned so much. You know what the first signs of overtraining are, when to just cover a hard workout and when to go that extra mile now. You’ve read all the running blogs late into the night the first time you trained and now you know. You’ve even learned the weird training quirks that are totally specific to you. All that knowledge leads to way less panicking and you know a zen like state this time around. The second time around its like a quiet calm descends over training and your training runs are once again the most peaceful part of your day.

The second time you train for an event really is very different than the first time around. Sure it has pros and cons but if you’re not redoing the odd event you really are missing out on a very cool experience. So instead of always looking at the next thing think about the last thing again. If you don’t you’ll be leaving some of your potential as an athlete on the table. Have you ever re-trained for the same event? What was the biggest difference for you between the first training cycle and the second time around? And while we’re add it were you faster the second time? Leave it in the comments below!

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