Monday, October 18, 2010

What pace should you run?

If you have a goal time in mind for your next race, you need a game plan going into it. Figuring out what pace to run for a given race distance can be tricky, but there are several ways to do it.

Generally speaking, the most accurate way to figure out a realistic pace for an upcoming race is to base it off of your most recent race time. If you've done a 5k and are getting ready for a 10k, work off the 5k time. If you're running a marathon, using your most recent 1/2 marathon time will be your best baseline for determining a realistic time. If you have a big gap in between an upcoming race and the last time you raced--six months or a year or so, for instance--then doing a time trial of two to three miles on a local track is going to be your better gauge.

Once you have a time to work from, there are a few different calculators you can plug the data into and come up with a number in the right ballpark. A few to try:
They will all probably give you different information because they use different formulas, but you can at least get a good feel for how hard you should/can go at your next race. Use the information to incorporate some training at that pace. For instance, if you have a 1/2 marathon coming up, spend some time once a week or every other week running some miles at that race pace goal. The more your body can get used to this pace, the easier it will be to tap into it during a race. 

Now go get that goal time!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The big day is what?

The hard work is done. You've logged countless miles getting ready for your big race and the day is finally here. Now all that's left to do is execute. Avoid these common mistakes and you'll finish like a champ:
  • Taking it out too hard--This is probably the number-one race day blunder. To avoid it, begin by seeding yourself accordingly. If you line up with the front of the pack, you'll likely get caught up. A mile or two in, your body will tell you that was a mistake. Practice starting your runs at an easier pace and gradually increasing the speed towards the end to help keep you in check on race day.
  • Showing up at the race at the last minute--Big races in particular can be logistical nightmares. Avoid getting stuck in long lines by giving yourself time to get parked, into your race-day outfit, and properly warmed up. 
  • Waiting until the last minute to hit the loo--Sounds silly, but the lines can get very long at the porta-potties! Get in line as soon as you arrive so that you're not still there when the gun goes off.
  • Skipping the water stops--Yes, taking in fluids while running can be tricky, but practice it in advance and it will be easier. Or consider walking through the aid stations. Whatever you do, don't skip the chance to hydrate.
  • Wearing too much/too heavy clothing--Many races start early in the morning when it's still cold. But once you get moving in your race, you'll heat up fast--faster than you would in training, in fact. So bring a throw-away shirt and/or pants to keep warm and then toss them at the start or a mile or two in. Most races collect this clothing post-race and donate it.
 By combining your training with the right approach to race day, you're sure to enjoy the event. More than likely, you'll leave the race chomping at the bit for the next chance to do it again.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

On race day--no new is good new!

So it's the day before your big race and you're at the expo. You spot some really cool shoes you've been wanting to try out. You buy them and throw them on your feet the next day for your race. WAIT!

Rewind that scenario--go to the expo, enjoy it, maybe even buy a few things. But don't try any of them on race day.

When you're racing, there's a hard and fast rule--no new is good new. You want to make sure that everything you're wearing, ingesting, doing, is something you have tried before. That means no new gels. No new shoes. No new super cute skirt (sorry fashionistas) unless it's a model you've worn before.

Race day brings with it stress you wouldn't normally have on a training day. If you add something into the mix that isn't tried and true, there's a good chance it could come back to haunt you. The new nutritional products could cause GI distress. The new clothing might cause uncomfortable chafing. Running a different pace than what you had planned and practice could result in a blow-up.

After all your hard work to get to the start line, you don't want to see your race fall apart because you decided to try something new. Stick with the tried and true and then a few days after the race, break out that new shirt or whatever fun thing it is you bought at the expo!