7 Racing Strategies for a Great Run: Fitness Friday

Most runners run races without giving much thought except about their entry fees, t-shirt and some fun. Running expert and 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, Dr. Jason Karp, says “When you develop and execute your race plan, you’ll achieve your potential and run better races.” He suggests these 7 racing strategies to improve yourself when it comes to running a race.

Strategy 1: Own the Process

Racing isn’t something that just happens. Know when to hold back and when to take control of certain moments in the race. Become an integral part of the racing process and take responsibility for your thoughts and actions, before, during, and after the race.

Strategy 2: Visualize your race before it happens. 

Visualizing your race before you run it allows you to experience it beforehand, making the experience familiar and thus making you less nervous.  If the experience is familiar, you will feel more comfortable.  Practice visualizing your race each day for a few days before it, seeing the whole experience. Then, when it’s time for your race, you will have already run it. 

Strategy 3: Know what pace you can sustain in the race. 

Learn from your workouts and know going into the race what pace you can expect to sustain.

Strategy 4: Have specific, meaningful goals in mind for your race.  

By having specific goals for your races, it allows you to get away from thinking about the race as a whole, which can be overwhelming.  It also allows for something positive to be taken from each race, even if the overall outcome is disappointing.  Have one or two goals for each race that are within your control.

Strategy 5: Control your nerves at the starting line. 

Every runner gets nervous before a race.  That’s perfectly normal.  The important thing is to not let your nervousness get the better of you and prevent you from running a winning race. 

Strategy 6: Keep changing the pace. 

While the best way to run your fastest possible time in a race is to run as even splits as possible, sometimes whom you beat and the place in which you finish matters more than the time on the clock.  In those races, a great winning racing strategy is to keep changing the pace on your opponent, in effect turning the race into a very hard fartlek.

Strategy 7: Become your own hero.

There is a moment in every race when it starts to feel uncomfortable.  While it’s a natural human tendency to back off from physical discomfort for self-preservation, one of the things that makes runners unique is their penchant for seeking it out.  It is in that moment in the race that you learn about yourself and what you are willing to do to meet your goal.  You want to walk away from your race feeling like you gave it everything you had.  You want to be proud of yourself.  Racing gives you the opportunity to become someone better than you currently are.

Top 10 Race Running Tips: Race for the Cure

 

Who is running the “Race for the Cure” this year? Since it’s this weekend in Birmingham, I thought I would share a few of my top 5K Race Running Tips. I have been a runner since I was 16, and I used to run races almost every weekend. This race, in support of Breast Cancer, is one of the best. If you haven’t run a race before, support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by trying out the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure”.

My Top 10 Race Tips:

1. Run with a friend-Running with a friend always makes it more fun and rewarding. Choose a friend who is inspiring, runs your pace and makes you laugh.

2. Pace Yourself-Don’t start off too fast, and think small. Just think and worry about the mile you’re on and not the entire picture. Save your speed and kick for the last mile of the race.

3. Eat and drink well-The night before the race, eat good carbohydrates with protein, and drink a lot of water. Avoid alcohol, sugar and fatty foods.

4. Don’t overdress-Wearing too many clothes can be so uncomfortable. Believe me. I have been guilty of this on many occasions. Less is more.

5. Wear good shoes-Purchase good running shoes, but break them in first. Don’t wear brand new shoes the day of the run, or you may get blisters (I learned the hard way on this one too).

6. Train-Train for the race. You can find many great training schedules online as well as training groups in your host city. Be sure to cross train as well.

7. Warm up and stretch-I like to run for a bit before the race begins to get my muscles warm and then stretch my legs.  Also, remember to stretch when the race is competed.

8. Rest– Get a good night’s rest the night before. Try to relax the night before, and try not to stress or over-think the race.

9. Arrive early-Get to the race early enough so you can relax and don’t have to rush. Give yourself time to park, get your number, put your gift bag in the car and warm up properly.

10. Have fun-Enjoy the race and give it all you got. You will feel so much better afterwards, and it will also be a great accomplishment (it’s also very fun to get a new T-shirt).