Race day mistakes. Have you made one? We sure have, and we lived to tell about them. Here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Going Out Too Fast. We all do it, even experienced runners still do it sometimes, and we pay dearly for it. Blasting off the starting line is so tempting because we’re feeling fresh, rested and anxious to get going. It seems like everyone around you is doing it too so it can be hard not to get swept up in the excitement. But going out faster than you trained to do will inevitably end up in a crash and burn situation. The faster you go out, the sooner and harder you’ll crash. Even though it may feel like you’re crawling at a snail’s pace, try your best to stick to the pace prescribed in your race plan. You can always pick it up later if you’re still feeling strong.
Giving Up Mentally. When the going gets tough, the tough are ready with distractions, mantras and other strategies to keep themselves going. Just like anything else, mental tenacity takes practice. Practice confidence-building positive self-talk during all of your training runs.
Divide and conquer a long race course in your head. When you’re really hurting smile wide and say out loud “I’ve so got this” or “running is tough but I’m tougher”.
Improper Fueling/Hydration. As you train, it’s so important to establish what fuel works for you and practice the intervals that work best for your body. Don’t race with anything you haven’t already tried in training. Find out ahead of time what fuel/hydration will be offered on the course at water stops. Also find out what the frequency of the water stops will be. Or choose to carry your own.
Failure to Adjust Goals. It’s great to have goals and plans but there are also times when it’s important to be flexible enough to alter them on the fly. Extreme race day weather or course changes can throw a kink in your pacing plan and it can be downright dangerous to proceed as if conditions were ideal. While it’s never easy to back off of a goal pace you spent months training for, it is often wise to change gears and back off.
Being Unprepared. Get your gear ready as much as possible the night before. Start with your head and work down to your shoes, laying out your race day outfit, accessories, fuel and electronics. Attach your bib and timing chip so you’re not fumbling around on race morning. If you’re traveling, bring along clothing for all kinds of weather. Allow more than enough time to travel to the race location and park. Review the course materials so you know where gear check is, your corral, the port-a-potties, etc. Set up a post-race reunion spot with family and friends ahead of time. For a full checklist, read our Race Day Countdown
By Marcia Kadens, Certified RRCA Running Coach and author of Marcia’s Healthy Slice