Racing Tactics 101: Four Ways To Dominate Your Next Race

Racing is a game of tactics. Hone yours well before you step on the starting line. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Surge To Get Back On Pace

One of the most common racing mistakes runners make is slowly letting the pace slip, oftentimes without even realizing it. As your legs get tired and your breathing becomes more labored, maintaining goal race pace gets more difficult — that’s not a big surprise. The problem is that many runners don’t know what to do about it once it does start happening.

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The solution is to analyze the splits from your previous races and identify where this slowdown occurred. If you have the data from your last three to four races, you can usually find a common point where you started to fade. If you’re new to a race distance, a good tip to remember is that the slowing point will most often occur just after halfway — usually between halfway and three quarters into the race. For example, the slowing point in a 5K usually happens at around the 3000-meter mark.

Once you’ve identified your slow spot, plan to throw in a surge at this exact moment as you’re developing your next race plan. The surge will get you back on pace and serve as a mental reminder not to let the pace slip. This doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to keep pushing the pace, but it does prevent the unintentional pace creep that often occurs.

How To Implement In Training

Like anything else on race day, you don’t want to rely on a new strategy without practicing it in training first. Include a few 60-90-second surges during your next long run or try inserting a “hammer” into your next track session (a hammer is running the second to last repeat of your interval session as fast as you can and then returning to normal interval pace for your last repeat). These two workouts will prepare your mind to execute this tactic when it counts — on race day.

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