As many of us are returning to racing for the first time in over a year, it may be hard to remember all the things we should and shouldn’t do during a race. Good thing I wrote this post back when I was racing more! If you’re getting back into racing, make sure you avoid these racing mistakes. They’re all pretty common but also avoidable! Here are the top 8 mistakes to avoid at your next race.
Top 7 Racing Mistakes to Avoid
Starting out too fast
This racing mistake is a big one for many runners. 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 your running watch
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.
Overdressing for your race
Often times the weather will be much cooler at the start line than at the finish line. You will warm up quickly once you start racing.. Bring throwaway clothes to wear before you start so that you can stay warm at the start line but then feel comfortable during the actual race.
If you’re used to running in the dark, you may want to check out some tips for running in the sun!
Not taking enough fuel during your race
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. It’s really helpful to practice your fueling strategy on training runs!
Getting into a negative mindset
A negative mindset can really get in the way of the good race. This has been a huge racing mistake for me in the past. 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. You can also work on strategies to overcome negative thinking.
Getting boxed in at the start of your race
Depending on how the starting corrals are set up, it can be really easy to get boxed in at the start of a race. (These days, with staggered starts, this may not be as much of a problem.) 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 an appropriate pacing group. 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.
Being distracted while racing
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. If you run with music, use it strategically. Maybe just turn it on during the middle of the race when you’ve settled into a good rhythm.
Dealing with racing mistakes
Most importantly, remember that racing should be fun. We will all make racing mistakes from time to time, but try not to let it ruin the experience. Use any racing mistakes as an experience to learn from. As with most things, racing takes practice. The more you race the more comfortable you will be with the logistics and process.
Has it been awhile since you’ve ran at all? Check out these tips on how to get back into running.
What racing mistakes have you made in the past?
Do you get more comfortable with racing the more you do it?
Have you been back to racing this year? If not, when will your first race be?
Now it’s time for the Runners’ Roundup! Link up your running and fitness posts below! Join myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs , and Laura Norris Running to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas.