Lining up for a goal race can be nerve-racking. Even some the the country’s top racers experience it. We’ve contacted a few of Canada’s best road racers to ask for some of their race tips.
Regardless of the distance, be patient and trust that you can handle the pace or respond to different race tactics. For marathons, I try to focus on running the first third like I’m being held back, the next third like I’m able to run beside anyone and the final third like I’m being chased by someone with a pitchfork!
I like to have my stuff ready for my race bag the night before but I won’t pack it all in there until the morning of the race — gives me something to do that keeps my mind busy.
Surround yourself with your support system — friends, family, coaches, teammates, training partners. They’ve been there through all of your good and bad days during training, and will always have faith in you, even when you don’t have it in yourself. They help lessen any pre-race anxiety, provide excellent company pre- and post-race, and usually are the loudest cheerers come race day. Plus, they usually don’t mind (and in my case they typically expect) getting a tear-filled phone call the night before the race! But even just knowing that you have those people there whenever you need them is all that’s necessary to reduce any pre-race freakout.
There’s always more running after every race, so as much as you want to nail this one, you also want it to be enjoyable and part the long term plan. Having a good race involves being true to yourself. Use others’ encouragement to your advantage and leave perceived expectations at home. Leave room in a race plan to deal with the unexpected and account for the obvious such as that you will run slower in the heat.
Sometimes it can be better to undertrain and get to the start line healthy than overtrain, get injured and not make the race. Stay healthy and consistent over cumulative time and there is no doubt you will see improvement. Distance running is the ultimate example of delayed gratification.