Step 6: Race Time
May 25, 2012
Of course there's loads more on the subject of training and racing, which is why I called in the experts: Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, the badass mother runners behind the virtual aid station: Another Mother Runner and the authors of Run Like a Mother, Train Like a Mother, and Tales from Another Mother Runner (in which yours truly has an essay published). Those of you who are ready to sign up for a race or make running races part of your fitness goals, Train Like a Mother is a great resource (and these running mamas have wit to match their knowledge).
I emailed Sarah and Dimity to ask them to give us their race-day tips. They chimed in with this advice to coach us to the finish:
- Warm-up before the run. Anywhere from 1/2 mile to 1 mile, and throw in some strides if you're used to doing that. Yes, it feels like work to warm-up before a run, but if you want to run a fast 5K, you need to cross the starting line feeling warm and ready to go.
- If you're gunning to finish in under 30 minutes, skip the water stop(s). Your body doesn't need water/fluids/gels/gus/calories for that short of a run. (If it's wicked hot, you may need a gulp or two, but that's it.)
- Position yourself well at the starting line. Be a little ambitious with where you line up and don't get intimidated, if you usually do at the starting line. Definitely make sure you're ahead of the walkers, and you might want to be toward one side, so you that you don't get too blocked in if you find you want to run faster.
- Look at the course map before the race, and note where the turns are. You want to be closest to the turn to minimize the distance you go. So if there's a right hand turn around mile 1.2, be sure you're near the right hand side of the road after you see the 1 mile marker.
- Really gun it on any downhills there might be. It's free speed, so keep your stride light and quick and see how fast you can get down it.
- Push yourself and pace yourself. For the first mile, go at a pace where you can speak in short sentences. For the second, up your speed so it's more like one-word answers. For the final 1.1, you don't want to talk. You just want to see the finish line.
- Don't forget your arms, especially on uphills. Your arms set the pace for your feet, so if you find yourself losing steam, just concentrate on keeping them swinging crisply and briskly.
- When you hit a tough spot in the race, just bring it back to basics: count 10 steps on your left, 10 on your right, 10 left, 10 right. When that gets boring, set small goals: keep that fast person in the pink shirt in sight; get past that stop sign; run strong until you see your family.
Great stuff! Want more from Dimity and Sarah? Then definitely check out their network of Sweaty Sisters at www.anothermotherrunner.com.