Sometimes you train for a race and everything in training goes perfectly. Your running feels great; your training feels great, and your taper goes well too. As you toe the line of your goal race, you feel confident in your abilities.
At the starting line, you’re ready and feel like you’re going to crush a new personal best.
But despite weeks or months of training, a race day disaster happens. Maybe it’s preventable, or maybe it’s not. Whatever the case is, the race doesn’t go according to plan.
Many things can cause a race day disaster, most of which I’ve dealt with personally. It’s important to remember that one race does not make or break your running career.
As someone who can attest to this, the weather is the biggest make or break factor. This year alone, I’ve raced in all of the following conditions:
- Two torrential downpours (thank you Shamrock Half Marathon and the Broad Street 10-miler!)
- The April Fools Half with 50 MPH headwinds
- The Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half when a hurricane was blowing through and they almost canceled it.
- Most recently, Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia when it was more humid than a mid-summer day.
So weather wise, Lady Luck has not been on my side.
Weather is obviously, completely out of any runner’s control. It’s important to take a moment and look at the weather beforehand. Don’t be scared to adjust your goals if need be.
Yes, it’s not greatest feeling to change goals because of the predicted weather but give yourself some slack. You aren’t going to race the same time on an inclement weather day.
2) Going out too fast
Most runners have learned this lesson the hard way. Starting a race too fast can lead to a much slower second half as the wheels come off. Personally, I’ve had a few races where I’ve “blown up.”
My two most notable were the Phoenix Full marathon and this year, the Shamrock half. I added a couple of minutes PER MILE in the final miles. I learned a lot about myself and race strategy during both of those races. Sure I felt good in the beginning, but no one sees that.
When you put the time in during training but don’t execute the race appropriately, you won’t achieve your race goal.
3) Trying Something New
I’ve run 31 half-marathons, and you think I would have learned my lesson by now. During my 30th half marathon, I ran in a brand new sports bra and had the chafing to prove it. I finished the race, but it was one of the most painful experiences I’ve had.
Don’t try anything new and make sure you’ve run or used everything you plan to race in.
Trying something new is one of the easiest issues to prevent but most runners have dealt with this race day fiasco…
4) Poor Fueling
Poor fueling falls along the same lines as don’t try anything new. It’s important to make sure you are fueled for the race you’re running. The last thing you want is to have a fueling issue after training hard for a race.
A few tips:
- Don’t try anything new on race day. I can’t stress that enough!
- Research what kind of fueling options will be on the course. Will it be gel? Gatorade? Water? Make sure you know and have tested whatever product is used.
- Make sure to hydrate in the days before the race. Sure you could hydrate during the race, but you should also hydrate before and after too!
5) “Stuff” Happens
Sometimes, for whatever reason, the race just doesn’t go your way. It’s not the answer any runner wants to hear but for whatever reason, your legs just don’t have it.
It’s important to take a step back and look at possible causes for a “bad” race. Don’t forget; there are races almost every single weekend and just because you had one bad one, doesn’t mean they will all be bad. Regroup and pick out a new goal race!
Have you dealt with any of these four issues in a race?