You’ve found a goal race and trained for it. You put it in the effort, but for some reason, you didn’t PR.
You don’t know why. After resting and recovering, you’ve picked out a new race and are ready to train smarter for your next race. After running over 30 half marathons, I’ve found a few sneaky things that could have affected race day results.
So why didn’t you PR?
1) You’re training too fast
Unless it’s a workout, you aren’t supposed to race your training runs. For example, most elite runners run their easy runs 1.5 to 2 minutes slower than race pace.
I’m not an elite, but I’m no stranger to running easy runs 2+ minutes slower than race pace. To be honest, it’s relaxing, and I recover faster. If you run easy runs too fast, then you won’t recover for races and workouts.
It might feel as though you are not training effectively, but easy runs are supposed to be just that, easy! Many new runners make the mistake of running every run too fast or at race pace. They end up injured, burnt out or hating the sport.
Another important point is that easy runs also help keep you healthy. My first running related injury, a tibia stress fracture, came from running my easy runs way too hard. My body didn’t recover each day.
One technique I’ve found to run easier is to leave the watch at home. Running without a watch takes the pressure off comparing pace and time.
2) You race your workouts
Can you see a trend that running slower is a key to many people’s improvement?
Every workout should not be a max effort. Your body won’t recover when you need it most, your race! Workouts are exactly that – workouts. If you run every workout hard, you will leave yourself too tired for the rest of training. You’ll be too tired to race at your maximum effort pace.
3) You struggle mentally
Running is just as mental as it is physical. As a runner, it’s important to have mental toughness. If you don’t believe you’ll PR, then you won’t.
Mental toughness isn’t just during a race. It means being strong throughout training and getting out on runs that you don’t want to.
Some days we are tired, have a lot going on or have to run at a time we don’t want to. Those training days are also included in being mentally healthy.
It takes just as much mental toughness to train in bad weather or non-ideal conditions.
4) You struggle with nutrition
When you run, you burn more calories.
When you burn more calories, you can eat more.
However, many runners don’t realize you can’t eat everything you see! Filling yourself on good quality nutritious foods is important.
Am I saying to skip dessert every single day? Absolutely not!
Am I saying going out for drinks, and an indulging meal the night before your goal race is a good idea? No, of course not.
Nutrition is important but don’t obsess about it. Make sure you are getting enough good quality calories before, after and even during a run if you need it.
5) You aren’t following any plan
This is one of the most important aspects of training. If you are running with no set schedule or plan, you won’t maximize your chance to PR. In fact, you are actually setting yourself up for injury too!
It’s important to have a plan to guide you when to run easy, hard and taper for the race. It’s also important to log what you are doing. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then how can you improve?
Sure, you might PR without a plan, but you will maximize your training with an appropriate plan.
6) You don’t look at the overall picture
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about running is fitness is a collection of workouts. You won’t lose fitness in a day and you won’t gain fitness in a single day. Instead of sweating about the little things of training, look at the trend of your running. Consistency is key!
7) You overthink the sport
To run efficiently, you must put one foot in front of the other. There are so many new gadgets out there from GPS watches to foam rollers, tech material and everything you can imagine. When you overthink the sport, you begin second guessing yourself and your decisions.
Don’t ruin your chances to PR. There are numerous things that many runners do without even realizing it! Even by changing one simple thing, you can increase your chances to PR!