How to Race Well

How to Race Well

I am someone who likes to race a lot.

Big races…

small races…

short races…

long races…

I don’t care about the race distance; I like them all!

One of the most common questions I receive is: how to race well? And also, why do you race so much? I thrive on the excitement of race day, pinning on a race bib number, the excitement of the start of a race, race pace, a new race course, and when I cross the finish line.  Heck, I even like grabbing the sports drink from the volunteers and the high fives along the course.

Plus with races, I tend to run faster. While every race is not a PR, I have found I thrive on racing frequently.  I also enjoy it.  I like meeting new people, pushing myself to the finish line and getting a good workout in.  I decided to compile a few tips and tricks that help me race well in any of my races.

How to Race Well:

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT:

The easiest answer to how to race well is race a lot. Practice things and learn from your mistakes.  Even experienced runners, like a professional marathoner, Sara Hall, runs most weekends.  She crosses the starting line most weekends and says she thrives on the race environment.

I believe that to run a goal race well; you should have a few practice races.

It is good to practice your nutrition, gels, CLOTHING, and pace goals beforehand.  Of course, you can do this in a training run, but nothing beats the real deal.  I know it took me 30+ 5ks to execute and PR at the Flower Show last year.  I highly doubt it takes most people that long.

STAY CALM:

Remember, you’ve been preparing for the race. You’ve put in the work, and all that is left is to start running the actual race.

Good nerves are not a bad thing, but don’t let them get the best of you.  A while back, I was interviewed on Lindsey Hein’s podcast; I’ll have another.  She asked if I got nervous during races and the answer was not really.  I race so much that while I do have a few nerves and butterflies, it’s never overwhelming because I’ve been in that situation before!

(Race) Confidence is key!

REMEMBER YOUR TRAINING:

Between racing and training, the majority of time is spent training.  Don’t forget about how you’ve prepared for the race with your training plan. Focus on the good aspects of training like long runs, fast runs, an even strength training.  Let’s be honest, a bad run sticks in our head longer than a good one.  Try not to forget about the good training runs too! Those are what build your confidence!

Before a major race, I like to scroll through my training log and look at the runs I crushed and felt confident!  

I feel a lot better going into a race knowing I crushed goal workouts.

CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN:

After the weather in 2016, I learned to toughen up in bad weather.  Before 2016, I had never really raced in bad weather.  The first five years, I had always lucked out, but very few races ever go smoothly.  It’s important to realize there will always be uncontrollables at a race and how you handle them will define your race!  This is a lesson I’ve learned with running and life.  You cannot control everything.  You can still race well, even with uncontrollables.  You might feel good on race day, but not be able to execute your race plan perfectly because of bad weather. That’s okay! Run your race, for the best of your abilities for the day.

Uncontrollables can be many things:

  • the race start is late
  • the weather is awful
  • or the course is changed
You can’t control every variable of a race, but you can control how you react.  Every racer deals with the same uncontrollables.  Remember, every racer is dealing with the same issues and we are all making the best of it!

ENJOY THE RACE:

The easiest answer of “how to race well” is enjoy the race. Every race has both high points and low points.  Embrace the good points as much as you complain about the low points.  Even in 5ks, you can have amazing moments and moments you want to forget.

REMEMBER THE END PROCESS AND MEETING YOUR GOALS IS WORTH IT.

Another post you might like: Racing in Undesirable Conditions

Questions for you:

Do you like racing? What are you some times you have on how to race well?