Along with spring comes the warmer temps which means that race season is officially upon us. If you’ve been following along – you know three weeks ago Louise and I ran the Shape Half Marathon and last weekend I ran the Broad Street 10 miler. This coming weekend Louise and I take on the Brooklyn Half Marathon which is actually my goal race! When your schedule is packed with races – do NOT try to set a personal record in every race you run – it is going to place too much stress on you physically and mentally. Instead, utilize them to practice different aspects of your race strategy while enjoying the cheer support and water stations!
Here are some ideas of things you can work on when time is not the goal!
- Fueling Strategies: While we practice fueling on our long runs, there is a different energy and intensity when it comes to a race setting. Now is a great time to put your fuel plan to the test. Do you have trouble opening your gel packs while running? I often open mine at red lights or street crossings during my training runs. Are you able to properly hydrate at water stops? I’ve found that I absolutely need to carry my water – regardless of what trick I use I always end up getting water up my nose or down the front of me – resulting in too little water actually being consumed. Also, how does that second gel pack feel in your stomach running at an effort level 7 versus the 5 you did in training? GI distress is a runner’s nightmare
- Running the Tangents: Probably one of my largest race nemesis – the tangents! A race is measured using the shortest possible route and maximizing the tangents. Obviously it’s not possible to perfectly replicate that on race day because you running with thousands of other individuals. However, you can improve your racing strategy to eliminate as much extra mileage as possible. Regardless of if you running a 10k or a marathon, running an extra half mile is not ideal on race day. The first step to improving this skill is to look at your course ahead of time. If you don’t know what turns are coming up, it’s very difficult to position yourself. During the race, practice keeping yourself in position and learning to adjust to real-time circumstances. This was one of my main goals during the Shape Half and I ran 13.27 versus the 13.54 I ran in the NYC Half in March!
- Running the Hills: During a hilly race – your strategy on the uphills can make or break your time. While I often talk about the importance of running on effort levels (thanks to several years of coaching by Jess), I find it is essential for hills. Your effort level should remain on the uphill and the downhill – NOT your PACE. If you try to maintain your pace on the uphill, you are likely going to overexert yourself and burn out. While climbing uphill, your pace is going to slow a little bit but vice versa on the downhill. Once you hit a flat surface – find your stride again. You will end up passing those individuals wearing themselves out on the hills. The best tip to achieving this is to really listen to your body – do not look at your watch.
- Negative Splits: Regardless if you are running a race for time, negative splits are always worth it! It’s never easy to pick up the pace those last few miles of a race – so the more you practice at getting comfortable with being uncomfortable the better. Find if a certain song or mantra really lights a fire in you or if you do better with getting absorbed in the crowds. Everyone has a different strategy to help them pick up the pace so figure out what works for you!
These races are also a great opportunity to try a new playlist, test out your race day outfit, or simply to have fun while executing a race plan. That way when your goal race comes around – you feel 100% prepared.
Do you have any races coming up? Share below 🙂