Did you know that we can be our own worst enemy? If you are a runner chances are you already know this all too well.
Racing can be in some ways an art, then other days it feels like it is completely up to fate as to what type of day you will get and how your body will respond.
In the end it really all comes down to one day and you never know what exactly you are going to get. However; there are 3 things that I’ve noticed stand in the way of many runners at having proper race success. While you can’t control the weather, the crowds, or (if you are like me) how many hours your child will sleep the night before you can control a few simple things.
Not Creating a Race Plan
You can’t have the same race plan for every race. Each race is unique in it’s own way. Sure, your paces are obviously going to change for each race but having a plan is much more than that. Creating a race plan is key to helping you execute all that you have been training for.
The first step in creating a race plan is to check out the course itself. Most marathon websites will have a course map and an elevation map. Both of these are important in creating your plan of attack.
Sometimes it helps to sit down and write out your plan. Plan out your paces, create your goal splits for certain points along the way, and have a plan for the tougher areas of the course. Set your plan for when you will pick up the pace and when you will hold back.
Not creating a plan can leave you making some costly mistakes on the race course.
Not Practicing Your Race Day Nutrition Strategy Ahead of Time
Race day nutrition is an absolutely vital part to proper execution. If you don’t practice your race day nutrition ahead of time you could end up dealing with frustrating stomach issues, a lack of proper nutrition, or fueling at the wrong times during the race.
The best way to practice your race day nutrition is to have a “dress rehearsal” preferably on one of your long runs during training. Start first thing by eating your pre-race breakfast. Pack all the fuel you think you will need on race day and practice it throughout the run. Make sure your stomach is tolerating the fuel well and figure out how often you need to take in calories to help your body perform at its best. You may need to do this more than once to figure it out and that’s OK – the more prepared you are the better!
Not Running YOUR Race
Even with the best laid plans when it comes to race day you can still make one pretty big mistake – not running YOUR race. You are the only one who knows what shape you are in, you are the only one who knows how your body performs. Even people who are going for the same time can execute a race very differently.
I’ve seen so many runners make the costly mistake of getting caught up with what those around them are doing that they don’t run their race plan and end up paying for it.
Especially in races like a marathon doing something you shouldn’t early on can cost you big time later. Don’t worry about other people focus only on the race plan you’ve set for yourself.
I always look at a race as this: if I spent all the hours, all the miles, all the days training for it why wouldn’t I go into as ready and prepared as you possibly can be. There are factors out of your control but there is nothing you can do about it. Focus on the things you can control and don’t make the three mistakes I’ve listed above.
Have you ever made a racing mistake?