Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Running Tip #16 - The Golden Rule of Racing

The golden rule is very simple; "never do something in a race you have not practiced in training".

This advice is so simple, it is easy to miss.

  1. Train in the shoes you will race in. Don't race in new shoes.
  2. Practice drinking like you will in a race. If you are getting paper cups that you are going to drink on the run, practice on a long run. It is tough to drink and run!
  3. If you are intending to eat on the race, this requires practice at race pace. Even getting a gel out of a pocket and open at race pace can be difficult. With gels, practice if you are going to take with fluid, swallow fast, or take a bit at a time while mixing with saliva (my approach).
  4. For races that are in the dark, practice running with a light
  5. If you will be running overnight, practice running overnight.
  6. Use your long runs to perfect your pre-race routine. You need to know how you body will react to different types of breakfast or fluids.
  7. Include the night before in your long run in your training. What you eat the night before can have a big impact on your run the following morning. The general advice is to eat pasta or similar, but I find that a high fat meal the night before is far better for me. Try different meals in training, not racing.
  8. Terrain - train for hilly races on hilly courses. Train for trail runs on trails.

Some things are hard to practice:

  1. Hanging around before the race starts in the cold. Think about what to wear to keep warm at the start that you can discard.
  2. Spring races where it may be warmer than your training. Overdressing to build heat adaptation can help a little.
  3. Altitude can be replicated via technology, but it is very expensive. Trying to get to the race location a few days early can help, but is often impractical
  4. Tapering is one of the hardest things to practice. Your only choice is to learn from each race.
  5. Don't be stupid. Sadly, this is often only apparent in hindsight. Make a note of your mistakes in your pre-race checklist, so hopefully you don't make them twice.