It takes a lot of planning and practice to make sure we are able to properly pace ourselves during a race, to make sure we make it to the finish line feeling strong, or at least not crash halfway through. Runners have to learn that it involves planning, proper pacing, mental and physical strength to be able to keep going when your body wants to either slow down or give up. Sometimes, only a few mistakes at the beginning of a race can throw your whole performance off. In order to achieve your goals, make sure you come up with a smart race-day plan.
Race Pacing Tips:
Don’t sprint at the start: With all the stress and adrenaline at the starting line, it can be very difficult to manage our stress level and not sprint off at the start. Sprinting at the start will not help you finish a race faster and stronger, speeding up for the first few kms of a race can waste a lot of our essential carbohydrates that our body will need later on, it can also cause muscle damage that will slow you down or maybe even have to stop.
Find the right starting spot: Slower runners starting a race at the front line might get pulled along at a too fast pace. If the race doesn’t have different start times for your expected pace, make sure you position yourself in the right spot. For runners who have issues with pacing themselves, make sure you position yourself slightly back so you will be forced to slowdown for the first few kms.
Use your GPS: Use your watch to help you pace yourself. If you look at your watch at the beginning of a race, usually you will see that your pace is way too fast. When running long-distance races, if we push for the first 10kms, most of the time our body will crash halfway through the race.
Avoid halfway crash: Often runners don’t properly fuel their body in the first part of a race. We can’t wait to feel our body starting to deplete or getting tired before we start fueling. If we wait to fuel our body or don’t consume enough nutrition because we don’t feel like we need it, then it becomes impossible to catch up on fueling once our body starts getting depleted. Nutrition and hydration is also part of the race-day plan. We have to schedule our fueling, just like our pacing.
Pace yourself according to the race course: If you’re running a flat course, focus on an even pace with a kick towards the end. If the course has a lot of uphills and downhills, pace yourself on the up and use the down to speed up. Also, plan according to the weather, if it’s hot, increase your hydration, and slow your pace or you might not finish the race.
Handle exhaustion and pain: Once your body starts feeling overtired or you are dealing with some muscle pain, start focusing on mental strength. Remind yourself to just keep moving, focus on resetting your running form, relax the shoulders, open the chest. Reassessing our running form regularly can distract us and keep our brain busy. Keep reminding yourself why you wanted to finish the race, and focus on getting to the finishing line. Even smiling during a race improves our performance, energy levels and mental strength. Make sure you finish strong and with a smile.
Train Hard, Eat Right, and Feel Great!