When looking to run your best race, making sure not to slow down can mean the difference between achieving a P.R. or a DNF. After spending countless hours training, the last thing you want is to get beat in the final stretch of a race.
There are many highs and lows during a race, but fortunately, if you keep moving forward while following a sound strategy, you can run your best race.
If you often find yourself slowing down at the mid-point or end of the race, there are some measures and steps you can take right now before and during the event to have a stronger finish.
Let’s look at a few.
Keeping a strong pace throughout a race requires a strong body and mind. Interval training is the best way to improve your physical and mental readiness and strength.
For this reason, make sure to include plenty of hard interval sessions in a running plan to improve your strength and mental resilience. This can help you feel tougher in the end.
You can also add a faster mile to your long runs at the race pace to improve your confidence and mental toughness.
Embrace The hills
Want to take your intervals to the next levels? Do them on hills, as these can make you stronger, increase your lactate threshold, and improve the running economy—all of which lead to stronger finishes.
Practice Race Pace
Have a habit of going out too fast? Then you better get familiar with the consistent pace you need to reach your goal.
The best way to ensure you maintain your pace during a race is to practice that pace during training. After all, he who sweats more in training bleeds less in battle.
This is especially helpful if you tend to go too fast from the get-go—even when you know the pace needed to run to reach your goal.
After a few practice workouts, take a mental note of how it feels to run at that pace.
Remember as many cues and signals as possible to recognize that when you’re in a race.
Increase Your Strength
You not only need strong lungs to run your best. Your muscles are also key, especially as you near the final stretch of a race. This is when your muscles are exhausted but still need to work hard.
For this reason, do plenty of strength training, mobility work, and plyometric training.
Here’s a simple workout routine that incorporates resistance training and plyo exercises that you can do twice a week.
- 30 air squats
- 20 lunges
- Ten jumping lunges
- One-minute plank hold
- One minute high knees
- 30-push ups
- Ten burpees
- Ten squat jumps
- Ten pull-ups
Then repeat the cycle two to three times.
During The race
Now let’s look at some of the steps to take during the race.
One of the most common mistakes runners make during a race is coming out too fast right out of the gate.
Depending on the race length, aim to give yourself the first 1-2 minutes, even the first few miles, and then force yourself to slow down. After that, you should be running slow enough to think you’re going too slow for a race.
Making this race mistake is easy because most feel strong at the start.
Keep in mind that you have a lot of adrenaline rushing through your body on race day, and everything may seem easy at first for that reason.
Instead, be conservative at the start and give yourself a few minutes (or miles, depending on the race) to force yourself to slow down. At the very least, pick a pace you know you can maintain for the entire race.
Do a Negative Split
Unless you’re racing a sprint distance—think 100m to 800m—you should aim to cover the race’s second half faster than the first half. Research has shown that performing negative splits is the best way to achieve P.R.
This is easier said than done, as most runners initially feel strong and confident. But you also have to realize that for every second you run too fast early on, you risk having it slow you down in the second half of the race.
That’s why you need to perform some of your training runs as a negative split, running the second half faster than the first. Getting your body used to start slower then finishing fast will train you to finish strong during a race.
Start by running your first mile at a comfortable pace, then keep tags on your time at the mile marker.