Fall is here and along with cooler temperatures comes a packed race calendar for the Dallas area. Racing can be a fun and rewarding addition to any runner’s routine. But if you find yourself chronically disappointed on race day or hesitant to register for races, it may be time to re-examine your race day expectations. Yes, it’s important to have big goals for each and every race. But it’s also important to understand that you won’t set a PR (personal record time) at every race. Here are some ways to avoid race day disappointment and run some great times this fall.
- Consider your training leading up to the race. Besides illness, injury, or extreme under-training, there aren’t a lot of excuses for skipping a race. But the amount of training under your belt will make a big difference in the time that you can expect. Were you under the weather a few weeks ago and missed some long runs? Or did you rock your training and squeeze in every single speed work session? Readjust your time goals accordingly.
- Know what you are getting into. Most large races and some small ones will post a course map on their web site. If you are concerned about your finishing time, study the map. Know where you will be running and, if possible, include part of the course on a training run. It’s just a fact that PRs are easier to set on courses that are fast and flat. That doesn’t mean avoiding more “scenic” or “challenging” race courses, but it does mean understanding that your times may be a little slower if you have to run up a lot of hills.
- Set multiple race day goals. Try to keep a couple finishing times in your mind as you step up to the starting line. One, a best possible outcome finish, probably a time at or faster than your current PR. Second, an “I’ll be happy with that” time, one that you have run before and are confident that you can do. Also set some goals that have nothing to do with your time such as keeping an even pace, feeling strong at the end or having fun with your running partners.
- Be willing to adjust goals on race day morning. If you get to the start at 7 a.m., and it’s already 80 degrees with a strong wind, realize that conditions aren’t perfect to run a perfect time. Every veteran runner will tell you that circumstances beyond your control can slow you down. Even if you are trained and ready, sometime it’s just not your day.
- Run with a purpose. You may not always be prepared or motivated to race for time, but you can find a purpose for every race. Schedule races strategically in your training for your main goal race, and they can be fun training runs with water stops. Register together with friends and races turn into healthy Saturday morning social events. Lacking motivation? Running a race can encourage you to get back to regular training. Even if you aren’t ready to run your best, you can find a reason to race.
- Put forth your best effort. No matter what your time is, you will feel better about the race knowing that you left it all out on the course. Show up at the finish line knowing you ran as best as you could on that day.
Ready to race? Find local race calendars at runontexas.com, lukeslocker.com, and runningintheusa.com.