I've been running for about 30 years now. I've heard and used the term "race ready" for a while. My definition is simple. I need to have some distance( 8 to 10 milers), run a sufficient number of runs at a pace near race pace, and stay healthy. Being an engineer by profession, I have a tendency to over analyze things. It's probably because of all the math and science classes I had to take in college. Anyway, I just went back over my running logs recently and noted that I have only run 6 (three 5Ks) races in the last three and a half years. That includes 3 Manchester road races (4.75 miles) too, where it's hard to run your best with 10,000 or so runners. The Manchester seeding cards help, but there are just too many people that jump in on Main Street or climb over the barriers at the starting line. That's a very small number of races to truly become "race ready" in my book.
I noted two other things with my running lately. One, I seem to have lost 30 seconds per mile in the last 3 or so years racing. Also, I haven't been training at my expected race pace too often. Hence my limited races times haven't been good. So where do I go from here. During this period, I've done some weekly speedwork on the trails, but I just don't think that the pace is quick enough. I could go to the track, but I've been lazy about it. Also, I switched my running shoes about three years ago from Nike to Merrell (minimalist shoes). I don't get the bounce from the Merrell shoes so I wonder if this could be a factor.
I'm going to try switching back to Nike for a while to see if there is any difference. I'll keep you posted as to my progress. I know I'm getting older, but I haven't given up trying to run faster. I plan on running another 5K race in a week or so. Will I be "race ready"? I hope so.