Three Elements to Know Before Racing


Another racing season is here and many of you will be out there trying to set prís and trying for better times. In my thirty plus years of racing the same questions went through my head annually. How well am I prepared? Did I do enough speed work? How about long runs? All of these questions pertain to being properly prepared.

As a coach in cross country we would discuss the following three keys to success before each meet.

The Course Being familiar with the course you are about to do is imperative. Are there hills? Where are they on the course? How about turns? Are there flat areas to recover? It sounds like a lot and it is. (In reviewing the Boston Marathon course recently with Kyle Timko we talked about all of the above.) Planning a strategy for your race is a main key for success and just one mistake can mean the difference between a good race and a bad one. I couldnít imagine attempting the Ogden Half Marathon without seeing the course. For those who have done it, think about that for a moment. Not knowing where, when, or how long the hills are would be a disaster waiting to happen.


The Competition I know many of you race for a certain time and are not racing against any certain person; however,  most of us are very aware of the other runners in our age group.  In that case we need to know our opponents strengths and weaknesses. Is he/she a good uphill or downhill runner? Do they go out pretty hard and then falter late in the race? Do they have a good finishing kick? In my heyday I learned all there was to know about my competitors, and Iím sure they knew just as much about me. At races I would look around and see guys like Lance Tarr, Mike Hudimac, Steve Habursky, Mike Remenar, Scooter Tolzda, Tom Griffith, Ron Callisie and Bruce Smith. Well, ok, Bruce usually kicked all our butts but the rest of this group was very talented and you had to know what you were up against from week to week.


Knowing Your Fitness Level           What kind of shape am I in? Can I go out at a certain pace and hold it or am I not quite ready for that yet?  Should I take it out easy? Can I rely on my finishing speed?  These are all good questions that need to be answered before towing the line to race. You may know the course and your competition, but do you have the level of fitness to stay with your competitor on this particular day. By now you should have tried your pace and race strategies somewhere in your training preparation. Race day is not the time to find out that you canít hold on to an eight minute mile pace or whatever your goal average time is.


Sound like a lot to swallow? It sometimes can be.  I always found it to be a challenge to keep these three keys in place, but in doing so it was my best possibility to have a good race. Work on these three facets of racing and see what happens.


Remember: If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.