Whether you are running a small 5K, the Crim 10 mile, or a marathon, you should have a race day strategy to help you achieve your specific goals. You’ve trained hard for the big day, so make sure you know what you want to accomplish and plan out the things you need to do on race day to make it happen.
First, ask yourself what your overall goal is. Do you have a time goal to beat, are you using this for a training run, or do you only want to finish the race?
Whatever your end goal, visualize yourself accomplishing this and what it will mean to you. Then, determine what needs to be done to make it a reality.
- If you are looking to beat a time goal, what is the pace you need to run to make it happen?
- If you are using this race as a training run, possibly for a race in the near future, what can you do to make sure not to overdo it and prevent getting injured?
- If you are only concerned with finishing the race, how can you enjoy yourself and soak in the crowd, course entertainment, and just have fun?
Know the race course. Check out the course maps online and get familiar with the mile markers and how that relates to your pace. Also know where the hills are, and how you plan to run them, as well as the location of water stations and toilets.
Don’t take off too fast. Adrenalin will cause you to run faster than you plan, especially at the beginning of a large race. Understand this and try to hold back a little at first if you feel going out too fast will cause you to burn out and slow down before the end of the race.
Run your own pace. Only one person will win the race and odds are it won’t be you. So, unless you are an elite athlete don’t worry when you get passed by someone a lot older than you, remember your goal and what you need to do.
Stick to your strategy to achieve your goals but be flexible enough to change your strategy in the moment if it makes sense to do so. You cannot control the weather, how other people run the race, or the unexpected cramps you may get (to a point). Like a vehicle uses a GPS to navigate a journey, use your race day strategy to navigate your race, and adapt accordingly to unexpected road blocks that you cannot control.