Running Strategy and Pacing – How to Plan Your Race Strategy

Running a race is quite different than doing a training run. Sure, you push yourself in training, but being at the starting line of a race – whether you are going for the “win” or running it to compete against yourself – is fun, exciting, and nerve-wracking all at the same time.

Regardless of the distance of the race, your level of experience, or your pace, these basic racing strategies will get you off “on the right foot”:

1. Be honest with yourself. Have you done your speed training? If the answer is yes, then you can probably maintain a faster pace. Is endurance your strength? If yes, then you should be more conservative and pass people later. Be realistic about what you can do.

2. Plan your pace and start slow. This is the hardest thing to do. You get so caught up in the excitement of the race, and you jump off the starting line like a horse out of the starting gate. Your adrenaline is pumping, and you’re so ready to get started that you don’t even feel like you’re running too fast. But when you see your first mile split and it’s 30 seconds than you’ve ever run, you know you’ve gone out way too fast.

3. Make adjustments. If you find that you’ve run the first couple of miles too fast, slow down a little to get to your planned race pace. You know if you can maintain that pace for the rest of the race. If you slow it down a little and by the last couple of miles you feel you have lots of energy left, then kick it in.

4. Hold your pace. If you manage to start out at your planned race pace, focus on maintaining that pace. Many studies show that running even splits often lead to personal records.

5. Run your own race. You are responsible only for yourself. You may have training partners, but when it comes to a race, you should “do your own thing.” You must not feel guilty about leaving a friend behind, nor should they feel like they can’t leave you behind.

6. Set your own goals for every race. Only you can determine your own personal challenge. Just because your partner wants to run a certain time, that does not mean that you must also. Your goals should be appropriate and realistic for you.

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