Run Strong, Finish Strong – 6 Ways to Make Sure You Do Not Slow Down in a Race

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Cross Training For Runners
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Written by :

David Dack

Imagine this: you’ve trained tirelessly for that big race, and the finish line is finally in sight. You’ve put in the sweat, the early mornings, and the dedication, but the last thing you want is to see your performance decline in the crucial moments.

The mid-point or end of a race can make or break your entire effort.

But fear not, because there are strategies and steps you can take to ensure you keep that momentum going strong and finish your race with a bang.

Let’s dive into these tactics to help you run your best race from start to finish!

Interval Training

Keeping a strong pace throughout a race requires a strong body and mind. Interval training is a game-changer when it comes to maintaining a strong pace throughout your race. It’s not just about physical strength but also mental toughness. Incorporating challenging interval sessions into your running plan can help you push through those crucial moments and finish strong.

To take it up a notch, consider adding faster miles at your race pace during long runs.

Embrace The hills

Want to take your intervals to the next level? Do them on hills.

Hill intervals can build strength, boost your lactate threshold, and enhance your running economy, all of which are key to achieving that strong finish. So, let’s tackle those hills and intervals to ensure your race day success!

Practice Race Pace

Ever find yourself starting a race too fast and paying the price later on? It’s a common mistake, but one that can be avoided with the right approach. To maintain a steady pace during your race, you need to be intimately acquainted with your target speed. The best way to achieve this is by practicing your race pace during training.

By sweating it out in your workouts, you’ll be better prepared for the battle of the race. Pay attention to how it feels to run at that pace—your breathing, your stride, your overall effort level. These cues will serve as valuable guides on race day, helping you stay on track and finish strong.

Increase Your Strength

As you approach the final stretch of a race, having strong muscles becomes crucial. Even when your muscles are fatigued, they still need to work hard to carry you through to the finish line. That’s where strength training, mobility work, and plyometric exercises come into play. Consider incorporating this routine into your training twice a week:

  • 30 air squats
  • 20 lunges
  • Ten jumping lunges
  • One-minute plank hold
  • One minute of high knees
  • 30 push-ups
  • Ten burpees
  • Ten squat jumps
  • Ten pull-ups

Repeat this cycle two to three times for a complete workout that will help build the muscular endurance you need for the final stretch of your race. But what about during the race itself? Let’s dive into some race-day strategies to keep you moving forward and finishing strong.

Additional Resource – Virtual Races Guide

Start Slow

Starting slow might not feel natural when the adrenaline is pumping, and the race excitement is at its peak, but it’s a crucial strategy for maintaining a strong pace throughout the entire race. Many runners make the mistake of going out too fast in the beginning, only to struggle later on.

Here’s how to approach the start of your race:

  1. Be Conservative: Depending on the race distance, allow yourself the first 1-2 minutes or even a few miles to settle into a controlled pace. You should feel like you’re running slower than you could because adrenaline can make everything feel easy at the start.
  2. Control Your Pace: Recognize that the initial burst of energy might tempt you to go faster than your planned pace. Instead, pick a pace you know you can sustain for the entire race. Trust in your training and race strategy.
  3. Avoid Overexertion: Starting too fast can lead to early fatigue and a drop in performance. By holding back in the beginning, you conserve energy for the later stages of the race, where it can make a significant difference.

Additional Resource – Your Guide to Fun Runs

Do a Negative Split

Now, let’s talk about a racing strategy that can really boost your performance – the “Negative Split.” Unless you’re sprinting, like those lightning-fast 100m or 800m races, you should seriously consider giving this strategy a shot. Why, you ask? Well, research has your back on this one; it’s the golden path to achieving your personal record (P.R.).

Now, don’t get me wrong, it sounds simpler than it is. At the start of a race, most runners are raring to go, feeling strong and confident. But here’s the deal – for every second you blaze through those early miles, you risk paying the price in the latter half of the race.

So, how do you master the art of negative splits? It’s all about practice. During your training runs, make it a mission to run the second half faster than the first. Think of it as training your body to finish with a bang. Start by cruising through that first mile at a comfortable pace, then keep an eagle eye on your time as you hit that mile marker.

It’s like building a crescendo in a song – start slow, and as you hit the halfway point, crank up the tempo. You’ll be amazed at how this strategy can help you finish strong and achieve those personal bests.

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