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.