To perform at their best it’s important for athletes to put themselves in competitive environments before actually toeing the line at a big race.  This is what makes tune-up races so important.  Completing smaller races during your training can help with mental preparation for the big race.  Tune-up races teach you how to push through the pain harder than you probably would in a training run.  Familiarity with racing also helps in eliminating anxiety, which can otherwise severely impede performance.  They also serve as a great dress rehearsal for your big race and expose you to anything and everything that can go both right and wrong during competition.  In knowing what to expect, anxiety can be dampened and performance improved.  As you become more confident in the race environment, you’ll surely see jumps in performance.  Grab your training calendar and sign up for some tune-up races.  Why put in all the miles without picking up a few extra race T-shirts and medals along the way?!

Take a look at this article from Runner’s World to get an idea of when to build in tune-up races to your training plan.