Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Before Your Next Big Race

We all know that evaluation and re-evaluation of all things pertaining to an athlete's training and racing is essential. I mean, who wants to make the same mistake over and over again?
Jon Sinclair,a former U.S. champion in Cross-Country and at the 10,000 meter distance,co-authored a book that gives a checklist of what we should ask ourselves after we have run an important race.The emphasis here is on important. This is a race that you made a point of really preparing for. I'm not talking about your generic weekend 5k road race here. For many,you can use the following after a recent marathon,but again,it can apply to any distance.
After some of the points I will offer an opinion or two.
1."Will I eat differently? Will I drink more fluidls during the race?"
Not drinking enough during a long race,especially a marathon,is a common rookie mistake. As a running mentor of mine said decades ago,if you feel thirsty during the marathon,it's too late,you're well on your way to becoming dehydrated. As far as eating? I still remember these guys eating big pancake breakfasts 3 hours before the Revco- Cleveland marathon.What were they thinking? The advancement in fluid replacement drinks and energy bars,etc. have been a Godsend. Eat a nice quality meal the night before in a relaxing,peaceful enviroment.
2."Will I rest more? Will I build a longer taper into my training schedule?"
Here is another common mistake made by all runners.Although some experienced runners would never admit it,continuing to train without backing off prior to the big race is proof that they are succumbing to pre-race anxiety or nerves.Take the marathon; you have been focusing all year on this race and you can't bring yourself to do a calculated taper before? Studies have shown that if you don't run a step for a week you lose only 5% of your overall fitness.
3."Will I run more mileage or less? Will I do more speedwork,tempo runs or resistance training?"
In my opinion,runners,particularly in the longer races like the 30k and up,don't do enough aerobic running.This pertains especially to the weekly long run. You do 20 milers all year to prepare for a marathon? What about the other 6 miles? This is my personal opinion but the longer the distance to be raced the less the emphasis should be on speed(interval) work.Now I am not talking about tempo runs,fartlek and training over hilly terrain and time trials,they are essential to long distance race preparedness.
4."What will I do the same or differently next race to prepare myself mentally and physically?"
Ah,the million dollar question for runners who want to race well. These are the the kind of questions you ask yourself the morning after THE race over a copy of coffee while wondering how many days it will take for the muscle soreness in your legs to go away.
5."Will I train exactly the same for the next race?"
I don't know about you folks but no matter how well I raced I always think I can "tweak" the program a little to do even better next time.


  1. Those of us dedicated to the sport and have a life long commitment to LDR. always look to improve our performance no matter how good or bad we race. Seems to be the optimistic nature of most distance runners.

  2. Wayne and others---
    Just came across a running book I'm real excited about--it's called The Longest Race by Ed Ayres--he was the founding editor of Running Times magazine back when it was a great mag.He is a long time dedicated runner who has run and competed well at all kinds of races but more so in the 50k and 50 milers.I should add that he has written other books.As to the kind of runner he is--he placed 3rd in the first NYC marathon back in 1970 and is the only runner of that race who is still competing today. Although the book focuses,to a certain extent on the JFK 50 miler and its history,it is more a book for those who live for the run.I came across it at the library today,it was published in 2012.

  3. Thanks for the tip. I will look to see if our library carries a copy. I'm blown away by all my aged friends I ran with or against who were excellent runners but have fallen by the way either due to serious injury, or more so, lack of discipline or interest. Some say they cannot cope with the idea of running slower due to aging. Some really good runners throw in the towel because they no longer can run fast and they refuse to compete or train at a slower pace. Many cannot comprehend why I would want to run, train, and compete at a much slower pace. I guess they never accepted the concept of "living for the run" as a life long endeavor, no matter what the pace......

  4. Oh one other thing.... the below link is worth reading: