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7 Tips for Runners – Race Day Edition

photoLast year I wrote a couple of lists about running. The first was for people considering taking up running, and the second was about preparing for a specific running event. Today’s list is for the day of the race.

Last weekend, as part of my first 20,000 days celebration, I ran my second half marathon. In spite of my September post on preparation, I did not prepare to the degree I had planned. So here’s what you do to make sure you have a good time, a good race, and no injury.

  1. Set your expectations to match your level of training. If you are running a longer race, but haven’t come close in your long runs, be prepared to walk part of the way. You can run the whole thing with the right level of mental toughness, but your risk of injury increases if you exceed your training by too much.
  2. Follow a practical pre-race ritual. This is different for everyone, based in part on your travel to the race location. Some nutrition to start your engine is a good idea, but most runners don’t want to have too much in their stomachs at the start of the race. Get to the race with enough time to register and pick up your number (unless there was pick-up available the day before). Check for the porta-pottys. If you need to use one, chances are they will be busy just before the race, so line up early.
  3. Position yourself in a reasonable location at the start. Don’t put other runners in the position of having to run around you in the early running. And don’t put yourself so deep in the pack that you don’t have room to run.
  4. The longer the race, the more careful you pace. Don’t start out at your best stride when the race is much longer than your usual run. If you routinely run 5k in 25 minutes, then by all means go out fast and back off a bit if you need to. But if you are an 11-minute miler running a 10k, don’t rush out at a 9 minute pace and expect you will keep it up.
  5. Remember the words of my friend John: “To finish is to win”. You trained, you registered, you got to the start. Now get to the finish and don’t worry about your time.
  6. Enjoy the rest of your day. If you ran a long race you may want to ice the legs a bit, even in an ice bath. This will reduce the recovery time.
  7. Pick another race and set up a new training plan!

I know that I was not happy with my last finish time, but thrilled with the run itself and that I finished without injury. But I know what I need to do to improve and I’ll run my own 13.1 in May with a new goal. Assuming I train enough.

Enjoy your training as much as your racing, and, as always, let’s be careful out there.

Anna at abdpbt is responsible for the effort to Fight Listless Mondays. Find other list links on her blog. Her lists and the others linked there always give you something to think about, and may even make you smile!

4 Responses to 7 Tips for Runners – Race Day Edition

  1. AlexisNo Gravatar says:

    I love #5. As I move towards my goal of doing a 5K, at glacial speed (both in terms of finding time to train and the rate at which I currently run) this was a very motivating idea.

    Congrats on a pleasing, and injury free, race. Half-marathon is a huge accomplishment.


  2. abdpbtNo Gravatar says:

    congrats on doing another half marathon! I’ve been running regularly but my mileage is not even close to ready for a half-marthon. Yet.


  3. timNo Gravatar says:

    @Alexis – #5 is most important. That’s part of why the Couch to 5K plan is so effective, it reminds people they are doing something, accomplishing something at any pace.

    @abdpbt – Thanks Anna. My mileage wasn’t good enough either. That’s why I had to run to the degree I had trained and not to the degree of a past half finish. My next one will by my own private run in May – training now to match my best half time.


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