Decisions When Running A Race

For the first time in a year, I ran a race yesterday.  It was a half-marathon.  I didn’t train that hard so I didn’t have huge expectations.

But, as I was preparing and running, I thought about all the things that go thru my mind and figured I’d share that.

  1. When do I buy a new pair of shoes?  I’ve had the same style of New Balance for years.  But, I make sure I don’t end up running a pair into the ground right before a race and have to switch to a new pair.
  2. Do I carry a drink or use the race drinks?  I prefer to carry a drink and save the time of slowing down during the drink stations.
  3. Should I walk to drink or run through the drink?  I’ve tried both.  I like to walk on the full marathon, but run through in all the other races.
  4. Should I listen to my iPod?  Yes for me since that’s how I train.
  5. Should I run with someone?  I’ve tried it a few times.  It works well if you have a similar pace and goal.  I think it’s important to do training especially long runs with people.  My old training group helped me get a lot faster in the past.
  6. What should I eat the night before?  Pasta and carbs.
  7. Where should I start?  I’ve started at the frontline (for a 5K) with my average pace group and with other groups.  I think this is somewhat mental.  If I start with people that are too fast, I run the risk of trying to keep up and burning out.  If you start too fast, you also have people passing you which can be psychologically frustrating.  If you start with a slower group, you might have to do more navigating to get to run fast, BUT I do like being able to pass people.  It’s a good feeling.
  8. What types of splits should I do?  The debate is whether to start fast, run all your miles at the same rate, or start slow and get faster.  I personally like to start slower and keep getting faster.
  9. Do I wear clothes to shed or start the race cold?  I always try to wear shorts (although yesterday was under 40 degrees), and I put Icy Hot on my legs which seems to keep them warm early in the race.  I’ve worn a long sleeve shirt to toss away, but yesterday, I wore a light coat the whole time.
  10. Do I bring gel (or beans) or take what they give you?  I always bring my own because you know the flavor you like.
  11. How much sleep should I get?  I try to get two good nights of sleep before I race (7 hours).
  12. When do I go to the bathroom?  Believe it or not, this is important.  You’ll wait 20+ minutes in line for a portapotty, but you want to hydrate before the race.  I hear that the hard core people just pee down their leg while they run, but I’m just not there.  If I really have to go, I stop during the race.
  13. Do I wear the race shirt?  I personally don’t like to wear the race shirt for the race.  It feels amateur to me (as if you don’t have any other shirt to wear).
  14. Where should I put my race number?  My friends (who run a lot) told me to put it on the front of your shirt and to put it low so it’s basically just above your waist. 

That’s a quick list.  I’m sure there’s more.  What amazed me was the amount of planning for this.  I know I do a lot of planning for presentations (logistics, clothes, sleep, run in the am, etc), but I’m sure that others plan a lot more for their recreation than they do for work.

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