Start a Race

Here are a few tips on how to start a race so that you can maximize your performance.

  • Okay, the gun has just gone off…get going! Watch out for flying elbows and
    spikes. Try to get out fast, but also focus on settling down and getting into a rhythm about one minute into the race.

  • If you are in good enough shape to try to win the race, don’t get caught behind a bunch of people. It’s important not to go out too fast, but it’s also critical that you don’t bury yourself early on. Therefore, work hard to move up to the front pack that will probably form.

  • Don’t go out too fast! You are not running the 100 meter event! If you go start a race too fast, you’ll suffer the consequences of oxygen debt, which means a terrible time and lots of pain. When you see other runners caught up in the excitement and start a race too fast, just laugh to yourself. It’s a good bet that you will see them later in the race when you pass them. Try hard to develop a pacing strategy.

    For example, if you are running a 5k with a goal time of 21 minutes, try to run around 7 minutes per mile. This means restraining yourself and trying not to run any faster than 6:30 for the first mile. It is not easy to have faith in your race plan while you see so many other runs going out like gangbusters at the start, but it is so important if you want to run to the best of your ability.

  • At about 1-2 minutes into the race, you’ll start to breath very hard. It is imperative that you relax and get your breathing under control. If you can breath relaxed and controlled you’ll be able to ward off the possibility of going into oxygen debt. This is one time where it is a good idea to take a lesson from sprinters in 100 meter races. Notice how sprinters keep their heads down and drive their legs for the first 30-40 meters of their race. Then, they settle into their normal running position and maintain their speed. It is similar for distance runners. Use the first 1-2 minutes to establish position and get out well, but then make sure you take a deep breath and relax at least by the first half-mile of the race.

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