You have decided to take to the starting line of a race. You've stuck scrupulously to the training plan that corresponds to the race in question (road, cross-country, short or long distance, etc.) You have been fully committed to the task and have avoided injury. Everything should therefore go well. However, as race day approaches your chief concern understandably becomes the question of how to manage your race in order to ensure that all the effort put in beforehand bears fruit?
1. Use Your Stress to Good Effect
It is highly probable that you will be affected by stress during the last few hours, if not days, before the race. Stress is often experienced negatively. It is the cause of many of our failures. However, stress is not only normal, it can be positive and you can turn it into an asset. Stress will help you to surpass yourself, achieve an outstanding performance that you would be unable to achieve in training. Indeed, rather than achieving personal bests in training, the major champions will perform best in major competitions!
2. The Warm-Up: How Much Time Should You Spend Warming Up?
The warm-up is very important, even for long-distance runs. If possible, you must warm up with some extra clothing in addition to your running outfit and run at a slow pace for 10 minutes for long distances and up to 20 minutes for shorter distances.
3. At What Pace Should You Run?
You probably have an idea of the time you want to achieve. So, should you start more quickly, run at a regular pace or run a "negative split" (the second half of the race is run more quickly than the first)?
4. Road Races
When running on roads (10 km, half and full marathon), the most effective strategy is to run at the average pace that you think you can maintain throughout the event. Most importantly, do not seek to start more quickly in order to get ahead of your split times. This is a common error and you will pay dearly at the end of the event for the seconds or minutes gained at the start. Regularity is the key to properly managing your race and this is what will help you attain your objective.
It is quite common for runners to be unaware that they are starting too fast because of the atmosphere, the pace of the other runners and the general level of excitement. If you have one, use your GPS to check your pace. However, a heart rate monitor belt will be of little use in a race. This particular tool is for training, not for this type of competition. The pulse of runners on the start line is often higher than that experienced during an endurance run. However, it can be useful to wear it in order to record your heart rate and analyse the graph after the race. It can be used to explain many things, including both successes and failures.
5. When Trail Running
For cross-country or trail runs, the runner's pace management will be totally different.The speed will primarily depend on the altitude changes and the technical difficulty posed by the terrain. Your pace will be dictated by how you feel. This includes the more challenging phases of a run where walking may be the right pace to adopt! Under no circumstances should walking be perceived as a failure, but rather a strategy for saving energy for later.
It is also important to be mindful of unexpected events occurring. When this happens, you will have to manage it without it ruining your preparation. Expecting the unexpected is the best way of being ready to cope.This is essential in trail running.
6. Managing One's Hydration and Food Supply Effectively
Whether you are running in the country or on roads, the way you manage the intake of fluids and food will also be a key factor in the success of your run. Never avoid refuelling in order to save a little time. This can have disastrous results when you approach the end of the race.
7. Mind Management
Even if you know how to manage your pace and the nerves of the last few days, a race never runs smoothly from beginning to end. In order to succeed, you have to work hard and dig deep to find an as yet unsuspected source of energy.
But, when your body and mind are put to the test, remember that it was your decision to participate. Thinking about a member of your family, a friend or any other positive thought can help you overcome a "challenging" moment during a race.
Enjoy your run! In order to keep in mind that running is a sport and should therefore be enjoyable!