Racing vs. Training: What’s the Proper Balance?

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I have one friend who runs every day (and runs pretty fast).  His grand total of official races he’s run?  One.  He just does not do races.  Another friend, who also runs every day, once logged around 40 races in one year.  And somewhere between those two is another friend who runs perhaps three times a week but plans to run 17 races this year.

What’s the proper amount of races per year in which to participate in comparison to just training?  Having races for which to train can help motivate people to keep running even in the dead of winter, the sogginess of spring or the heat of summer.  On the other hand, too many races can burn someone out.  In fact, having too many races may actually be detrimental to your performance due to lessened training and recovery time.

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