Have you ever finished a half marathon and thought: “I could have done that better?”
Have your legs felt like led, your pace dropping and you feel like you can barely WALK across the finish line of a a marathon , let alone sprint?
Have you ever finished knowing your half marathon result didn’t represent the training you put in?
All of the above have happened to me. It’s really disappointing when you know that despite your hard work, the race didn’t go as you planned. Although there will always be circumstances out of your control in a race, there are also a lot of things you CAN do to make help reach your potential in a race.
Negative Splitting my Boston Qualifying Marathon
This past November, I finally qualified for the Boston Marathon, 10 years after setting the goal. In the final 6 miles of the race, I felt strong and confident. My pace stayed strong. My final mile was one of my FASTEST. When I saw my friend at the 26 mile mark of the marathon, I KNEW I was going to finally achieve my Boston qualifying goal that I set 10 years before. (See my reaction here).
But the road to success was full of failures! I had to learn from every disappointing race in order to have my dream one. I’ve learned a lot from my own experience, research and working with many runners and would love to share some of that knowledge with you!
Here are my top tips for racing a half or full marathon to your potential:
⛽️Fuel early and often (and practice this in training). My fueling: Solid breakfast. 1 gel 10 min before the race, 1 gel every 30 minutes.
🏃♀️Pacing is crucial. Plan to negative split. Never run a mile more than 20 seconds under goal pace in the first half, no matter HOW good you feel!! Once you lock into goal pace after a few miles, do what you can to stay within that mile and keep it locked in to your goal pace range. Know that the same pace WILL feel easier or harder throughout the race.
🗺️Know the course and break it down mentally into sections. Focus on executing your plan in each section rather than thinking ahead to the miles you have to go.
👏 Have at least 5 different mental techniques on hand to use throughout the race (my favorites: focusing on my form, distraction, mantras, gratitude)
Remember: it’s going to hurt either way. Racing won’t “feel easy” so don’t expect to to. Practice all of this during training so that you’re prepared to race strong.
We don’t run races to feel comfortable – we run races to see what we’re made of.
And last: know that bad days happen. We can’t control everything but we can control our reaction to it. If you had a bad race, learn from it and use that knowledge and experience to get better.
As long as you don’t stop trying, you WILL achieve your goal!!
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