Easy steps to take for racing success
Racing Made Easy
Some people think they are not good at races. They don’t enjoy them and feel that they don’t have a lot of success.
But by following a few simple steps and avoiding some common pitfalls your racing can be far more successful.
- Prepare properly. First of all you need to go out and do some training. At least half of your running each week should be steady running (where you can hold a slightly breathless conversation).
- Prepare for race pace. As well as steady running run to prepare for race pace. Either run a series of short efforts with rest in between (e.g. 4 x 5min efforts with 3min rest), do a run where you mix the pace as you feel (called a fartlek) or do a run where you start easy before running at a fair pace (tempo) and then finishing with more easy running. Check our guide to running a faster 5k or 10k if that's your distance.
- Do a long run. Include one far longer run once a week at a slower pace. For marathon training aim to build up to two hours of running.
- Don’t race in training. Racing takes a lot out of you. Save your big effort for race day. Training should include easy, steady and hard work. Flat out only comes on race day. Many people do everything fairly hard and then only manage fairly hard on race day.
- Find a training/racing partner. Having someone to train with helps with motivation, helps you to judge your pace and gives you better pace judgment. You can also pace each other in races.
- Prepare for race day. Have a routine for eating (a light meal a couple of hours before you race), sleeping (getting up in time to get to the race), drinking (used to being hydrated but not suffering a stitch) and warming up (easy jog, stretch, a few bursts of faster running over 50m or so). Use it in training so it is second nature. Get used to training at race time, whether that’s morning or afternoon, so race day feels a familiar routine.
- Don’t be put off. It’s likely that many people around you will do very different things prior to racing. Don’t follow what they do even if they are better than you.
- Start as you mean to go on. The race day buzz makes it very easy to get carried away with your pace early on. This is especially true if you see someone you know just ahead. But aim to run even pace. Check out our Beginners Guide to Racing
- Don’t act on feeling bad or feeling good. If you are ill do not race. But if you feel bad do not panic. It is often nerves and you will be fine when you get going. If you are feeling good don’t go charging off – it is often the adrenaline. Stick to your initial strategy, once you get to halfway you can push on of you are still feeling good.
- Vary your racing. Many people make the mistake of seeing themselves as a specialist at one particular distance. They may well be best at that distance. But racing over longer and shorter distances makes you even better over it by boosting speed and endurance in a way you never thought possible. You may even find hidden talents you did not know you had.