Are you feeling as inspired as I am by yesterday’s Boston Marathon? I won’t be running a marathon anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream about finally getting to Boston one day. I’ve been out of the racing game for a while now. (10 months since my last race and about a year and half since my last marathon.) However, it doesn’t feel that long! Especially when I start thinking about the racing mistakes I have made over the years. I feel like it was all just yesterday!
If you have a race coming up, try to avoid making these racing mistakes like I did!
Starting out too fast
How common is this one? We line up for a race, feeling well rested and energized by the crowds, and realize we have gone out way too fast. It’s better to start slow, and make sure you have enough energy for later in the race. I’ve made this mistake in both the 5k and the full marathon, and both are a struggle when you get to the end of the race and know you wasted energy in the beginning.
Being a slave to the Garmin
While a GPS watch can be helpful, it’s also important to learn to run based on effort. Race day conditions can influence your pace. If it’s a hot day out, your regular pace will feel significantly harder than it would on a cool day. By running based on effort, you can adjust your pace to the conditions of your race.
Often times races start later in the morning, and end when the sun is out and the temperatures have warmed up. Bring throwaway clothes to wear before you start, and know that you will warm up significantly as you are racing.
Not taking enough fuel
If you wait until you are hungry/thirsty to eat/drink, it will probably be too late. Have a fueling plan in place and stick to it. Take your first fuel before you need it. Also, make sure to carry some with you in case you are not familiar with what is being given out on the course.
Getting into a negative mindset
A negative mindset can really get in the way of the good race. This has happened to me in multiple races. Without practicing before the race it’s really hard to get yourself out of it. A few years ago I read How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald which really helped me to work on my mental strength.
Getting boxed in
Depending on how the starting corrals are set up, it can be really easy to get boxed in at the start of a race. Make sure you are around runners who will be starting at a similar pace. In bigger races, there will be pacers holding up signs. Even if you are not running with a pace group it can be helpful to start nearby other runners who have a similar goal pace. You don’t want to start out too fast, but you also don’t want to get boxed in and start out way too slow.
There are times during a race when being distracted is helpful, but during most of the race you want to stay focused. Remember your race strategy, pay attention to your breathing and how you are feeling, and use positive self-talk. Being too distracted during a race can lead to getting way off pace if you’re not paying attention to where you are in the race and how you are feeling.
Most importantly, remember that racing should be fun. We will all make mistakes from time to time, but try not to let it ruin the experience. As with most things, racing takes practice. The more you race the more comfortable you will be with the logistics and process.
What mistakes have you made during a race?
Do you get more comfortable with racing the more you do it?