Okay, I sort of feel wonky about doing this post because it’s been about a zillion years since I last actually raced. But I was talking with some friends of mine and the whole subject of race tactics and such came up. That, and I know that a lot of my bloggy friends have big races coming up or they are training for, so I thought it might benefit a few folks out there to offer up some things that I’ve learned along the way. There is way too much to go on and on about regarding races, so I’ll probably have to make this a topic to return to again later. (Look there, every now and again when you come here you might actually be able to take something of worth away…haha)
*Run the tangents: this one might some sort of ‘basic’ or ‘duh’ but I’m not kidding you that it took me forever to actually really apply it. One reason was because I just didn’t think about it or figured an extra few steps couldn’t really make all that much difference, but it adds up. There is a reason that you’ll see people hugging the curves or in a road race cross to the other side of the street to run as close to the little taped off markers as possible; there is also a reason why on the track you usually want to pass someone on a straightaway so you can go around them without running extra distance. If you’re going to focus on something during a race, look for the shortest routes to get to the end; this adds up even more the longer you go and if it comes to the finish line and you see you missed a PR by a few seconds, do you want to be kicking yourself in the bum thinking you could have beaten it if only you didn’t run a few turns too wide?
*Slap yourself into focus: it’s easy to let your mind wander…guilty (moreso though just in everyday life)! But whenever I am in a race or a hard workout I don’t tend to wander, the pain usually tries to take my focus. 😉 But really, you don’t want to be caught in mindless wandering, that will usually lead to the legs slowing down and you might not even be aware of it. So if you catch yourself starting to drift, slap yourself back to the moment, look at the person in front of you and key off of them. Stare a hole into their back and don’t let them get any further ahead of you, instead catch up to them, try to pass, and if you do, then look for the next person in front…pick people off one little bugger at a time. 😉 haha.
*Chuck the baggage: I see more and more people going gadgecized. It’s like before heading out for a run or race they are plugged into more things than NASA. Granted I’m maybe too ‘outdated’ but sometimes it’s good to ignore the garmin, the watch even, and just race off of feel. This is good for a few reasons; one, you can freak yourself out if you feel great and are clicking along but look at the clock and think, “Holy heck, I’m way ahead of pace, am I going to blow-up?” This can mess with you mentally and sometimes cause you to slow down when you’re on the verge of a breakthrough race. Second, constantly checking on your pace isn’t always necessary, as you become more experienced you want to be able to be in tune with your body and ‘know’ what paces feel like.
*Still, splits help: wow, so now I am going to contradict myself because there ARE times when the watch is playing to your benefit! Examples: giving you a clear warning you may be going out too fast, a nice kick in the tush if you have mentally checked-out and slowed down, are hitting target pace and a motivator to keep doing that, and there are other instances. The thing is, the clock has its time (horrible pun, sorry) and place, but in the end YOU are the one out there and how you feel is going to trump whatever the clock does say. So if looking at the splits is only going to stress you out or you’re having a bad day and the legs just didn’t show up, then the time can be a little defeating and better to just get through the race at that point.
*Hold dem horses: this one was mentioned in the last but it deserves it own because it’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make…going out too fast. We are all guilty but trust me that bootylock crawl to the finish is our only reward. Race day excitement makes it easy to get sucked into this but an experienced racer knows that even if that adrenaline makes the early mile pace feel much easier, it will catch up to you trifold. They say for every second you go out too fast the first mile, you’ll end up slowing down by at least 10 sec’s by the end…trust me it might be even more than that and it will certainly feel much longer. Trying to ‘get ahead’ and under your pace thinking you’ll get a ‘cushion’ by doing that will actually work against you…much better to pick it up and get faster as you go along, all about those negative splits.
Those are just a few tips and hopefully they might be of some use for you. I also want to bring up that there are benefits of ‘bad’ races or workouts and also how you can mentally come back after those…all jabber for another post as this one is getting mighty lengthy!
1) What’s one of your racing tips?
2) Do you have a funny story of you making an obvious racing blunder?
For awhile I used to not run the tangents because somehow in my mind I thought it might be ‘cheating’ or like I was trying to run less than the ‘real’ distance. Stupid, I know. The race directors measure the course gauging off of the shortest distance marked by cones (read: the tangents) and on the track, so long as you’re not crossing that white line you’re golden. 😛
3) When your mind does wander when you’re running or racing where does it go?
I get song lyrics stuck in my head, which can work to my benefit sometimes. I also get random words or phrases stuck in my head; when I was taking Spanish in high school there would be times where I’d honestly keep thinking ‘la luz’ in my head.