Thursday, April 11, 2013

Race-day strategies

For those who are new to running a race, having a race-day strategy might seem like something foreign. Some people get discouraged after they race because they didn't reach the goal time they had intended. Others find they made an adjustment on race day that caused them to have poor performance or finish the race in the medical tent. Below are some race-day strategies to consider:

·        Don’t do something new: Never EVER do something on race day that you haven’t tested in your training. This includes what you eat/drink the night before the race, the morning of the race, and during the race; what you wear; and how you warm up.
·        Warm up appropriately: Recall what you did during your training to warm up. Don’t let the excitement of race day stop you from getting an appropriate warm up. It may take a while for your body to get going and you want to make sure you are prepared to go when the race begins.
·        Position yourself in the pack appropriately: Larger races typically have pace seeding at the start line. However, many local and/or smaller races don’t necessarily have this and it may take a little planning on your part to determine where you should be at the start line. If you run a 12:00 mile then you don’t want to be at the front of the start line. Alternatively, if you run a 6:00 mile, you don’t want to be in the back of the pack. Not positioning yourself at least somewhat in a reasonable area for your pace could cause you to miss your time goal.
·        Pacing: Ultimately, you want to keep a steady pace throughout your race. However, many people choose to race a negative split: running a little slower at the beginning of the race and then picking up the pace toward the end. Only race this way if you have planned to do so and have found it to be a successful strategy during training.
·        Don’t overdress: A good rule of thumb is to dress as if the weather is 15 degrees warmer than it is. If it’s cold outside, wearing additional “give away” clothes can be worn at the start line.
·        Pick up your race packet early: If you are able to pick up your packet before race day then do so. This will give you one less thing to worry about the day of the race.
·        Race Bib: Pin your race bib to the front of your shirt. This allows race officials and photographers to know you are part of the race. Alternatively, you can attach your bib to a race belt but still keep the number showing in the front.
·        Get to the race early: Many runners get to the race venue about 45 minutes – one hour early depending on the size of the race. You’ll want to give yourself enough time for a warm up, going to the bathroom (lines can get LONG!), picking up your packet (if you haven’t already) and pinning your bib.
·        Have fun! Seriously, if you aren't going to have fun then why are you even racing? Put on a smile, greet other runners, and run happy to the finish line!

Hopefully, knowing and planning for your race day will give you the finish line success you are looking to achieve.

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