Everything about a racing event – whether you’re running, cycling, swimming, or doing all three – is exciting. The anticipation, the competition, and the people watching and cheering you on are all features of a race that amp up your adrenaline, making you feel hyped and ready.
While the excitement of the starting line is a powerful tool when it comes to racing, it can also undermine your race if you let the energy take you over completely, as you will tire outearlier and start to feel your muscles weaken.
This is why every long-distance runner needs to have a strategy for keeping an even pace throughout a race, sohere are some tips:
No matter what distance you plan to run, it’s important to hold yourself back in the early stages of the race. Even though you have done countless hours of training and are feeling strong, resist the temptation to push yourself at the start.
At the end of the race, you will need those energy reserves more than you do at the beginning, so just concentrate on settling into a pace that is no faster than what your average pace is. Especially if you are running a marathon, the first few kilometres will feel almost ridiculously slow, so think of them as your warm-up and conserve your energy for the push at the end.
If you are in a large race, then you will probably start out in a large crowd anyway. So, instead of zigzagging your way through the hordesand wearing yourself out, use this as a good opportunity to gainsome ground, without using up energy. Simply go with the flow until you get more space, and then start easing into your familiar pace and stride.
Don’t even consider running faster until you reach the halfway point – even if other people in the race are zooming past you. Start listening to your body: Are your muscles beginningto ache, or do you feel like you could run at that pace forever?
If you think you can manage the rest of the distance at a faster pace, then gradually start stepping up. This doesn’t mean you should burst into a sprint; instead, take your speedup one notch and see how you feel. If you do feel fatigued, however, then don’t push yourself to a higher pace. When you do this, you put your body at risk of injury and overexertion. Instead, slow down your pace and reassess how you feel later on.
This is also a good time to ensure you are well-hydrated by taking in small sips of water. For longer races, consider bringing along a snack, or protein supplements, to help your body regain its strength.
As you approach the last leg of the race, it’s time to bust out that final kick. Take one last supplyof your energy and strength, and decide how fast you can go, and for how long. If you have good speed and are feeling okay, then you will probably be able to kick it into high gear for that final kilometre.
If your speed isn’t so good, then you might want to consider picking up your pace, and maintaining that for the rest of the race instead. Basically, gauge how much you have left to give, and then push to the finish.
Your workout isn’t finished by the time you get to the finish line, as you will still need to warm down, stretch, and take recovery supplements, so that your body can repair itself quickly. A post-workout routine is crucial if you want to be able to recover and stay in good form for your next exerciseor race.