Thursday, January 28, 2010

Race Day Strategy - What to Consider

I don't know about you guys, but for me, this part of race planning is the biggest challenge. Do you know what I mean? Here's the deal:

You spend 3-4 months in marathon training and all of the effort that goes into it. But with hitting the roads everyday, that is essentially an easy part of the routine because you are basically following the plan, you know? Whether you have a coach, an existing training plan or one you picked up from one of the many running websites around, all you have to do is follow it. Little thought is involved.

But, as your training comes full circle and race day draws near, you have to switch your focus somewhat. If you have run many races like I have, you have probably come to realize how important it is to have a sound race day strategy. I've showed up at the Start line many times without one, and I suffered because of it.

Here are the things I cover in my mind before I ever arrive on race day:
  • clothing (pre-race, race, post-race)
  • nutrition (pre-race)
  • hydration 
  • gel needs (number, flavor, etc.)
  • race goals ("Gold", "Silver" and "Bronze")
  • expected rough patches - how I will deal with them
  • race course profile - I want to know the course well so I know what to expect and when to expect it
  • travel considerations (lead time, parking, etc.)
  • weather forecast (this will have impact on first item above
There are other factors I try to take into consideration before lining up on race morning, but these are the heavy hitters, for sure. You know, of all of the ones listed, I think the most important one involves the expected rough patches that invariably come in an endurance event such as a marathon or Ironman. 

As I said, nearly all races will bring you some difficult pieces that you must travel through. What I try to do is mentally go through the course, mile by mile, and prepare myself for what I will do in each section, should a problem arise. How will I handle fatigue at mile 24? When that mile long hill at mile 17 arrives, how hard am I planning on pushing? Those types of questions are key for me to answer BEFORE the race arrives. In a hyper-adrenalized state, I don't need to address things like this on first pass. Planning ahead for the problems that will arise is a huge benefit. At least, it has been for me. 

I'll let you know how Sunday's race works out...:)

No comments:

Post a Comment